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Missouri Red Cross volunteers head to Mississippi to join disaster relief effort

Missourians are answering the call to help the communities devastated by tornadoes in the southeast.

ST. LOUIS — Missouri volunteers with the American Red Cross are headed to Mississippi to help in disaster zones with mental health, sheltering and the tech side of the major response to the tornado that devastated miles and miles of homes.

“My community is, it's gone,” Rolling Fork, Mississippi, Mayor Eldridge Walker said. 

When Mississippians went to bed Friday night, they had no idea they’d wake up to entire towns flattened.

“Thank God we're alive, but also, we're so devastated by the loss of the whole trailer park behind the building. It’s gone and we don't know where everybody is. We don't know who's alive and who's gone,” Rolling Fork business owner Tracy Harden said.

Walker said several people died in the destruction of an EF-4 tornado, and there’s not much left.

“Right now, we want to make sure that those families who are displaced, that they have someplace to go, that they have proper shelter, they have food, water, so that we can make it through,” Walker said.

That's where the Red Cross is stepping in to help. There are 140 volunteers already on the ground in parts of Mississippi and Alabama, and more from Missouri are on the way.

“We have three individuals who are getting ready to go and plan to get there Monday or early this week,” American Red Cross of Missouri and Arkansas Spokesperson Sharon Watson said/ "And the individual from St. Louis is actually going down to be a disaster mental health responder."

The other volunteers from Missouri will be helping with sheltering, technology and bringing supplies.

“And those do include cleanup supplies because one of the first things people want to do is start going out to their home and trying to find what they can salvage from that area," Watson said. "So we want to make sure that they have supplies to do that, buckets and rakes and shovels and tarps and all of those types of things. So those are going into the area now."

Watson said spring is only getting started, and they’re already seeing an increase in natural disasters making it important to think about your own disaster plan.

“You could be in an area where you're stuck, a remote area," Watson said. "The roads could be closed off for a while. You can't get out. So having some bottled water, some nonperishable foods, things like that, to help you through those first 24-72 hours is really critical."

RELATED: What to do when you hear a tornado siren

If you or someone you know were affected by tornadoes in the South or Midwestern, click here to get help from the Red Cross.

If you'd like to help, the Red Cross said it's best to make a monetary donation. You can do that by calling 1-800-RED-CROSS, visiting the Red Cross website or by texting "TORNADO" to 90999.

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