HUDSONVILLE, Mich. (WOOD) — The tornadoes that tore through the south hit close to home for a West Michigan group that has been working to provide relief to the region for many years.
Mississippi Christian Family Services has a warehouse near Hudsonville and has been working for decades to help people in Rolling Fork.
Joel and Angie Blauwkamp returned home to Jenison on Saturday after spending a month volunteering with Mississippi Christian Family Services.
“We could not believe what we heard. It was just, just devastating. It was like a bad dream you’re going to wake up from,” Angie Blauwkamp said.
They heard about the tornado hitting the town on their way back.
“It was two blocks south of where we were staying there, the organization there,” Joel Blauwkamp said.
The organization collects donated items from throughout West Michigan. They are shipped to Rolling Fork on a semi-truck, where they are sold in a store to benefit the impoverished area, according to Helengene Doornbos, a board member.
“We will not rush this stuff down there because at this point the people have no place to put it,” Doornbos said.
Mississippi Christian Family Services has several buildings that just barely escaped the reach of the tornado.
“It took a while before we knew that our buildings were all standing, which we just consider a miraculous gift from God,” Doornbos said.
The mission is not far from Chuck’s Dairy Bar, a popular restaurant destroyed by the tornado.
“One of our staff from Mississippi Christian is a worker there too and she was one of the ones that was in the cooler when it struck,” Angie Blauwkamp said.
The volunteers are looking for ways they can help the area rebuild.
“We’d sure love to be back there but you don’t know what you can do for them right now but hopefully we can open the store to them again and even hand out stuff that they need,” Angie Blauwkamp said.