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Mayor Billy Knight of Moss PointMayor Billy Knight of Moss Point

Mayor Billy Knight of Moss Point

Loria Adams wants to “get good sleep and cook something decent” in her new house.

Across town, Betty Holloway wishes her mother could see her new residence. “If she could see me now—my mother would be 109 years old,” she said.

What’s 96-year-old Ernest Watson gonna do in his new home?

“I’m goin’ sit on the front porch and wave at everybody who goes by,” he said. After working 39-and-a-half years at International Paper Company, where he operated the pump mill, Watson figures it’s time to relax.

The dreams and plans of people in Moss Point, Mississippi, may seem simple on the surface. But life in the town got complicated on June 19, 2023, when a tornado ripped through town, damaging or destroying at least 100 homes.

Seventy-five percent of people who live in Moss Point are Black, and many of the damaged homes have been in their families for generations. The tornado stuck on Juneteenth, a federal holiday in the United States commemorating the ending of slavery in the United Staes.

Homeowner Ernest Watson

Nine months later, volunteers from Disaster Aid Ohio, an Amish group that works under the MDS umbrella, will have built four new homes and made major repairs to 12 more in Moss Point.

Young volunteers—many in their early 20s—make up a large portion of the crews, with most of them staying a week or two.

Kari Weaver, 20, from Apple Creek, Ohio, said she simply really enjoys serving others. “I had more fun here than I did on vacation,” she said.

Her friend Eva Keim, from Charm, Ohio, said the best part of volunteering is “just being together” with people her own age.

For Moss Point Mayor Billy Knight, Sr., these young people are a godsend to a town that’s got a lot of pluck but needs a hand in long-term disaster recovery. “It’s amazing that young people will give a life of service to others,” said Knight. “They’re actually looking for problems to solve!”

Homeowner Betty Holloway with Paige Roberts, Chairwoman of Jackson County, MS, Long Term Recovery Committee

Knight said he has welcomed the volunteers into his community—and he admires their hard work, skills and especially their humility. “They are a big part of why our recovery is going well,” he said. “They want to be of service—and they don’t want to be on the news.”

For tornado survivors like Loria Adams, the volunteers are news—the good news of God’s work in the world. “When I saw my house was just a slab, I thought: Lord, what we gonna do?” said Adams. “But now I know: God’s got it.”


Susan Kim, MDS Writer 

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