Meridian Star

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August 12, 2013

Hattiesburg still recovering from tornado 6 months later

Hattiesburg —

HATTIESBURG, Miss. (AP) — Saturday marked six months since an EF4 tornado tore through the Hattiesburg area, and volunteers from around the country still are pitching in to help repair and rebuild homes.

Restore, Rebuild, Recover South Mississippi, also known as R3SM, is a long-term recovery agency created by the United Way of Southeast Mississippi after Hurricane Katrina.

The agency has teamed with Volunteer Hattiesburg to coordinate the rebuilding work for residents in need.

By early August, according to the agency, nearly 1,700 people had volunteered for a total of 17,316 hours.

Alex Corban, an R3SM volunteer coordinator, tells The Clarion-Ledger (http://on.thec-l.com/1cGMZmS) groups have volunteered to help from as far away as Pennsylvania and Colorado.

"I have the most fun job at R3SM because I get to see the finished product, and I get to be with the homeowners while they're working on their homes, and it's quite rewarding," Corban said.

Corban said the Federal Emergency Management Agency provided a list of damaged homes to R3SM and Volunteer Hattiesburg, and the homeowners are contacted to determine whether they still need assistance.

Then, case managers and construction estimators survey the damage, and the properties that meet certain criteria are placed into the hands of volunteers.

The last week of July, a group from Winnsboro United Methodist Church in Louisiana visited some of the homes on the list.

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