Pine Belt Strong – Disaster Recovery

Four lives were lost and over 1,000 homes destroyed in the aftermath of a 31-mile devastating EF3 tornado that hit the Pine Belt on January 21, 2017.

How You Can Help


Donate to:   The Pine Belt Community Disaster Fund to help those affected by the storm.  


How long does it take to lose everything?  Seconds…

In the wake of the most devastating tornado to hit the Pine Belt area, President Donald Trump declared a federal disaster for Forrest, Lamar, Lauderdale and Perry Counties in MS.

On January 21, 2017 an EF3 tornado tore through the Pine Belt killing four people and injuring dozens more.  The tornado ripped a 31-mile path across the region and damaged or destroyed more than 1,100 homes.  In addition, many churches, businesses and William Carey University were badly damaged.

This disaster has displaced thousands of people; many lost everything.  Entire neighborhoods were destroyed, homes and businesses were destroyed, and William Carey University received extensive damage throughout their entire campus.

In response to the depth of disaster of the storm, The Greater PineBelt Community Foundation has re-activated their long-term recovery fund, Pine Belt Community Disaster Fund.  Donations to the Community Disaster Fund will be disbursed by the Long Term Recovery Committee that will be established by R3SM (Recover, Rebuild, Restore Southeast MS), the Long Term Recovery Agency for the Pine Belt.

“We all need to come together to help victims of this deadly tornado,” said Terri Bell, President of PineBelt Community Foundation’s Board of Directors. “Victims reported that the tornado was upon them in a flash.  Families scrambled for closets, bathtubs, under mattresses and tables, anywhere close that offered some semblance of safety.  Within minutes, property, landscapes and vehicles were destroyed, and sadly four lives were lost.”

Anyone with damages in these counties should apply for assistance by going to or by calling 1-800-621-FEMA (3362). The speech or hearing impaired may call (TTY) 1-800-462-7585.

If you have been affected please register at one of these Disaster Recovery Center Locations:  

Hattiesburg:  C.E. Roy Community Center, 200 E. 5th St., Hattiesburg, MS  39401

Petal:  Petal Civic Center, 712 Main St. Petal, MS  39465

How You Can HELP – Ways to Donate 

Pine Belt Strong:  Participate or volunteer for our upcoming Telethon!   On Wednesday, February 1, 2017, WDAM and the Greater PineBelt Community Foundation will partner to conduct a one-day special telethon to raise funds for victims who have been affected by the tornado. 

1)      CALL  1-844-281-5609 during the Pine Belt Strong Telethon (February 1 only)

2)      TEXT the word “RELIEF”  to 601-777 to contribute (February 1-25 only)

3)      On-line Donation:  at and click on the DONATE button and pay be credit card or PayPal.  Please write “Pine Belt Disaster Fund” in the message line.

4)      By Check:  Make out the check to “The Greater PineBelt Community Foundation” and put “Disaster Fund” in the memo line and mail or bring the check to 1507 Hardy Street, Suite 208, Hattiesburg, MS  39401.

Questions?  Call 601.583.6180 

Donations are for long-term recovery needs and will support the most vulnerable families in the affected counties.   Donations will be managed by the Pinebelt Community Foundation and a diverse board of community members (a Long Term Recovery Committee) with a mandate to help the most needy.  


This does not take place of the good work that the Red Cross, Salvation Army, United Way and all of the great nonprofit agencies who are assisting with immediate needs.

To Volunteer go to