Amish & Mennonites Help Mississippi Tornado Victims

In a nice story of sacrifice, some Amish and Mennonites recently spent holiday vacation time helping victims of an April 2018 tornado. About 200 homes and businesses were damaged last spring by a 115-mph-wind tornado in the area of Meridian, Mississippi.

The volunteers are working through the Mennonite Disaster Service organization (MDS). You can see Amish men in this photo doing what looks like cleanup prior to reconstruction work:

Photo by Paula Merritt / The Meridian Star

Here’s more from the Meridian Star:

MDS members who are part of the Amish community in Indiana traveled to Meridian to lend a hand.

Waters said these volunteers gave willingly to help people in need during the holiday season.

“They were on break and used their vacation and holiday time to come here and work on some of our homes,” she said.

Larry Miller is a member of the MDS, and says the relief efforts the group provides are unique.

“Historically we’re (Mennonites) different from other Protestants because we don’t do war, we like to do peace,” said Miller. “It’s our response to doing something very important for the country in lieu of doing military stuff that would violate our conscience.”

According to Miller, the MDS is exceptional due to its large pool of volunteers and its ability to delegate 90 percent of funds to actual service, and only 10 percent toward administration, a number, he says, not many relief efforts can duplicate.

“Our national office has a hotline to recruit volunteers,” said Miller. “We draw the funds and chip in free labor.”

Nice way to put the message of Jesus into practice during the Christmas season. Though it is definitely hard work, for Amish volunteers it is also a nice chance to see another part of the country while doing good for a faraway community.

Amish frequently lend muscle to disaster relief efforts, whether via MDS or other venues. One example is the post-Harvey recovery efforts in Houston. The city has seen at least 600 Amish and Mennonite volunteers help rebuild since the devastating hurricane struck in the summer of 2017.

The Meridian tornado, affecting just a small corner of the country, was not nearly as high-profile a disaster as Harvey (this was the first I’d heard of it). I think that’s one thing I liked about this story – and the fact that the volunteers came here a full eight months after the tornado happened, because there was still work to be done.

It’s just nice to know there are organizations and people like this out there, and that if there are people in need then they are going to help as they can, including those disasters that don’t get the world headlines. A hearty hat tip to the organization and its volunteers – Amish, Mennonite, or whoever else they might be.

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    1. Debbie Halcomb

      disaster relief

      God bless these men for the giving of their time and skills to others in need. So many times these small events go unnoticed leaving families and communities devastated. Once the cameras and reporters leave town people go about their daily routines forgetting that it takes months, even years to repair the damage to lives and property.

      Thanks for sharing this story and the reminder that needs are ongoing.

      1. Well put Debbie, I second that. Am glad when I have the chance to share good news stories here.

    2. Steve B


      What wonderful acts of kindness. I pray the volunteers are Blessed as much as the families they were helping.

    3. Barbara Hamby

      Mennonites helping Chickasaw county

      This never got into the newspapers, but when the April 27 2011 tornado that hit Chickasaw and Monroe county, i saw Mennonite come out and help with the cleanup than i had ever seen in Chickasaw county. The whole Mennonite community in Chickasaw county came out it seemed like. I new alot of them but there were some there i didnt know. I even saw the men of a very small Amish group that is on the Chickasaw/Monroe county line. They all came carrying their own equipment. That along with the fire departments in Chickasaw county made fast work of getting the toads cleared where emergency crews could get to the people hurt or the ones that dies in the tornado.

      1. Great story Barbara, sounds like that was a more dramatic situation, an immediate emergency response that may have helped save lives or at least helped the injured. Thanks for sharing it. You didn’t mention the state but I think you are talking about Iowa?

        1. Barbara Hamby

          Nope i was actually talking about Mississippi….funny but the only place that got mentioned on national tv about the tornado was Smithville, Mississippi.

    4. Jenny

      Not really sure where to ask


      Thanks for sharing inspiring stories. This is so important for people to read. they should know that the Amish and Mennonite don’t just close off community but go beyond what others might do during disasters such as this.

      My questions are ( was not sure where to ask since new to the subscription)

      Where can I find Amish or Mennonite carpenters to help with our house?
      Are there any Amish or Mennonite in Pittsylvania county Va ?

      Do you or can you share of any stories of the transition of outsiders becoming Amish?

      1. Glad you liked this story, Jenny, and welcome. We have some pages on those two topics but I’m happy to try to answer you here – as far as carpenters, I think you’re in luck as Pittsylvania County borders Halifax County which is home to a not huge but decent-sized Amish community. I was recently told there are around 70 households there and I believe quite a few of them work in carpentry and construction.

        I don’t have numbers to give you right now but that would be a place to look. If you’re willing to do a little drive, you could drive over and stop in at one of the Amish shops and ask someone. You’ll find some Amish businesses along Hunting Creek Rd. traveling east from Nathalie. You could stop in and ask for any recommendations for carpenters in the community and I think you’ll be able to get some info that way.

        They are not in your county but most Amish construction crews will travel some distance for work. Here’s some more on the area with some of the businesses listed; they also mention a couple of families that do construction but no contact details here:

        As far as joining the Amish, we have a lot of posts on that topic, here are a few and you can also search in the box at the top: