Volunteers help small town in tornado recovery

(Source: KAIT)
(Source: KAIT)
(Source: KAIT)
(Source: KAIT)

MISSISSIPPI COUNTY, AR (KAIT) - While the small Mississippi County town of Keiser is dealing with the destruction that an EF-1 tornado left behind, they are not in it alone.

Several organizations and individuals from across Region 8 have shown up to help.

That is why Mayor Sandra Smith uses the word blessed to describe her city despite the debris that still litters their yards and streets.

"It's just been overwhelming," Smith said. "But overwhelming in a good way."

That tornado brought 90 mile-per-hour winds, which severely damaged two businesses as well as the library and countless homes.

Mayor Smith isn't focusing on any of those negatives, though.

"Considering the damage, we were so blessed not to have any injuries, we didn't have any fatalities," Smith said. "And to see everyone to come into Keiser, as a very small community, a tight-knit community, and they have embraced us to no end."

Even before the rain moved out Saturday night, crews had moved in from Wilson and Osceola to help their neighbors in their time of need.

On Monday and Tuesday, the Arkansas Department of Correction and Mississippi County Jail had inmates in the town to help with cleanup.

"And they have been such a big help," Smith said. "They're some of the hardest workers you'll ever meet."

The mayor said God sent them the people who would know what they needed before they even knew.

One of those groups that responded is the Southern Baptist Convention's Disaster Relief Team.

"When we came in Sunday I would estimate there were about 1,000 people across this small town," said Jay Paul Woods, the incident commander for the relief team.

His guys spent most of Monday and Tuesday making sure all of the houses were covered and in the dry before more rain moves in on Wednesday.

He said they're in Keiser for a higher purpose, though.

"First of all, we get to pray with everybody at every house we go to," Woods said. "The work is just a bonus for the people that we do it for. The spreading the word and the love of Jesus and the gospel is what the goal is."

Woods also does not believe this tornado hitting the small community was an accident.

"The town is 800 people in the middle of nowhere, fields completely surround it but the tornado came right through here," Woods said. "God's hand was in that. Nobody got hurt. There were no injuries. And he brought us and other organizations in that were able to show the love of Jesus to them. There's not a doubt in my mind that at some point here soon revival is going to start in this town."

Mayor Smith said the county judge has verbally declared the town a disaster. They are just waiting to hear back from the state agencies.

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