DESOTO COUNTY, Miss. (WMC) - As Mid-Southerners clean up and try to rebuild from this weekend's storm, hundreds of community members are stepping up to help, including a group of firefighters who almost became victims themselves.
Love thy neighbor.
That's not just a phrase written on the side of their fire trucks.
It's what the men and women of the Love Fire Department say they try to do every day.
So, when an EF1 tornado hit their community over the weekend, they decided to make their fire station a place where the community could drop off donations, like nonperishable food and bottled water, for those in need.
"People just brought out their hearts. They've been here volunteering, dropping off donations, picking up donations," said Love Fire Dept. Chief Shawn Witt.
Witt says hundreds of people have already stopped by.
"We were sure the community would step up and help each other," said Witt. "I think a lot of it has to do with the 'love' name. That tells you a lot."
The firefighters were nearly victims themselves. The first tornado that touched down carved a path of destruction just yards from their station on Highway 51.
"The building started shaking, so we all got up to see what was going on," said Kortnie Smith.
Smith was one of the volunteer firefighters who scrambled out of bed.
"It just like happened so fast, it's still so unbelievable to think about," said Smith.
Smith said as soon as the twister passed, they started receiving calls for help. But many of the roads were blocked.
“We just started grabbing our chainsaws and cutting down trees as fast as we could,” said Smith.
Now, they're providing help in another way by collecting donations.
"Neighbors help neighbors. We're all in this together," said Witt. "This isn't charity or anything like that. This is your local neighbor helping their neighbor in a time of need."
The Love Fire Department is collecting bottled water and nonperishable food. They’re also available to talk and give hugs.
The Love Fire Department is located at 7345 Hwy 51 South in Hernando, Mississippi. You can stop by anytime to drop off a donation. You can also call or text Chief Witt at 901-870-5804 and they will come to you.