A pallet loaded with supplies is driven by a forklift
Supplies are loaded onto Convoy of Hope trucks, bound for communities in Mississippi devasted by tornados Friday night. (Photo: Convoy of Hope)

Convoy of Hope is responding to the deadly, devastating tornadoes that tore through Mississippi Friday evening, March 24. Trucks loaded with relief supplies left the nonprofit’s distribution headquarters in Republic Saturday morning, along with a team to assess the needs of the affected communities and begin distribution.

At least 25 people are dead in Mississippi and one person was killed in Alabama. Dozens were injured and hundreds have been left homeless.

Convoy of Hope is a faith-based nonprofit international humanitarian-relief organization based in Greene County. It was founded by Hal Donaldson in the early 1990s. 

Donaldson spoke about the tornadoes and Convoy’s response in a video shared on the website. 

“One of those tornadoes was a mile wide and it left destruction over a 100-mile swath,” Donaldson said. “We are committed to meeting needs and helping thousands of families put their lives together over the long haul because we are going to be there long after the news cameras stop rolling, because this will not be a short-term relief and recovery effort.”

Ethan Forhetz, Convoy’s national spokesperson, said the team has been busy delivering water, cleaning supplies and tarps to help patch where roofs were blown off. 

“Chainsaws start tomorrow,” Forhetz said. “The devastation is horrible. It’s like Joplin in many areas.”

The tornado received a preliminary EF-4 rating, the National Weather Service office in Jackson said late Saturday in a tweet. An EF-4 tornado has top wind gusts between 166 mph and 200 mph (265 kph and 320 kph), according to the service. The Jackson office cautioned it was still gathering information on the tornado, according to an Associated Press report

“By now, you’ve probably already seen some of the heartbreaking images of homes and businesses that have been destroyed, and you’ve seen the interviews with families that have lost everything they own,” Donaldson said. “Please know this, your financial support right now will directly help these families in their time of need.” 

Follow Convoy of Hope’s efforts in Mississippi by visiting the organization’s website

Jackie Rehwald

Jackie Rehwald is a reporter at the Springfield Daily Citizen. She covers housing, homelessness, domestic violence and early childhood, among other public affairs issues. Her office line is 417-837-3659. More by Jackie Rehwald