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A call has gone out for volunteers to help with the massive cleanup in areas of South Mississippi struck by tornadoes last weekend.

Mississippi Emergency Management Agency officials are coordinating with multiple volunteer organizations – including the Mississippi Commission on Volunteer Service – to bring volunteers into Hattiesburg, Petal and other areas of Forrest and Lamar counties damaged by Sunday’s tornadoes.

National Weather Service officials confirmed that an EF-4 tornado struck Petal and Hattiesburg, including the University of Southern Mississippi. An EF-3 tornado also struck Marion County. Other counties were also struck by smaller twisters.

Officials have notified several member organizations in the state VOAD – Volunteer Organizations Active in Disaster – to recruit volunteers for the cleanup effort, including Oktibbeha-Starkville Emergency Response Volunteer Services (OSERVS).

Connie Malone, OSERVS director of operations, said a call has gone out for volunteers who can travel to the storm-ravaged areas and spend two to three days assisting in cleanup efforts, primarily in debris removal.

“Volunteers are asked to bring work gloves, rakes, wheel barrows or chainsaws to help in the cleanup,” said Malone. “Volunteers will be provided with a place to stay while they are in the area.”

Anyone interested in volunteering with the tornado cleanup in South Mississippi can call Malone at the OSERVS office at (662) 384-2200 or send her an e-mail message at oservsdirector@gmail.com. The OSERVS office is open from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday to Thursday and from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Friday. Any messages left will be returned as soon as possible, Malone said.

Established in July 2010, OSERVS works to assist local victims of disasters and emergencies and educate the public on disaster preparedness and safety.

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