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Out-of-state volunteers chip in to help with massive Desoto County, MS tornado recovery effort

DESOTO COUNTY, Miss. (localmemphis.com) – The damage from two confirmed tornadoes Saturday morning in Desoto County, MS is now believed to be the costlies...

DESOTO COUNTY, Miss. (localmemphis.com) – The damage from two confirmed tornadoes Saturday morning in Desoto County, MS is now believed to be the costliest storm in at least a decade.

Tuesday, the Desoto County officeof emergency management said preliminary damage costs are now more than $14million.

The number of impacted homes alsorose compared to Monday’s estimate, with 643 homes now believed to havesuffered some kind of damage, including 21 destroyed and 83 with major damage.

At the Lewisburg Fire Department,donations continue to pour in. And Tuesday, out-of-state volunteers chipped in tohelp the massive Desoto County recovery, focusing first on homeowners left withonly a shell of their property.

“Lost everything, but Godtalked to me and he said ‘you’ve still got your health, you are still OK,’” SueWilliams said.

The 68-year-old feared for her lifeSaturday morning, as a tornado ripped over home in Olive Branch’s Lewisburgcommunity.

“I got into the closet andstayed there until the roof went off and the water started coming through,”Williams said.

With her home destroyed and thegrandmother of seven initially feeling hopeless, Tuesday morning hope arrivedwith volunteers in orange shirts.

“They walk up and offered tohelp and I need it,” Williams said.

A disaster relief team from NorthCarolina-based Samaritan’s Purse cut trees and cleared debris from Williams’yard, as volunteers began a weeks-long recovery assistance mission acrossDesoto County.

“It’s just a wonderfulprivilege to go in and serve,” Samaritan’s Purse regional program managerShannon Daley said.

Samaritan’s Purse disaster relieforganizers expect up to 50 volunteers will contribute, with the hopes of cleaningup more than 100 affected properties.

“The reason we do this work is justto love on people and to be able to meet homeowners like this one, to be ableto walk alongside of them when they are hurting and let them know that they arenot alone and they are loved,” Daley said.

Desoto County emergency management leaders are hopeful FEMA will approve disaster relief funding in the next week or so, with the goal of affected homeowners being able to apply for assistance in the next month.