South MS woman tours tornado devastation: 'I was blown away'
Casey Palmer of St. Martin and two friends from Jackson drove for 14-hours to tornado-ravaged Oklahoma, pulling a trailer loaded with donations from generous South Mississippians.
ST. MARTIN, MS (WLOX) -
A Jackson County woman went to Oklahoma to deliver supplies and help with the tornado clean-up. She came home over the weekend with images of destruction beyond her imagination. It was a life-changing experience.
The images in the video were unbelievable, house after house blown to pieces.
"It was completely flat homes. Everything like kids toys just strewn everywhere. Clothes, baby clothes, they were completely torn apart," said Casey Palmer of St. Martin. "I looked for miles over the fields and I couldn't ever stop seeing the destruction. It was like, man where does it end?"
Palmer shot the video during her relief mission to Oklahoma last week. Palmer and two friends from Jackson drove for 14-hours Wednesday night, pulling a trailer loaded with donations from generous South Mississippians. Their first stop was a food bank in Edmond, OK, just north of the disaster zone.
"I remember one lady, she was in tears. She was crying and she couldn't believe it. She said, 'I can't believe y'all did this!' So they were really, really shocked," recalled Palmer.
The following morning, they rode into Moore. Nothing prepared Palmer for what she was about to see.
"I was totally blown away. I never thought I'd see slabs of homes with everything completely wiped away, little children's bedrooms just ripped through. And you can tell, because you can see the Spider Man or the Super Woman or the Barbie comforters through the window and there's nothing else there," said Palmer. "I was fighting tears, because you saw all the people that were there cleaning their homes, and it was heartbreaking to see that and see what they've lost."
The three friends immediately went to work, using chain saws they brought with them to clear away trees and debris.
"I'm surprised that I even did it, because I'm scared of car rides. I hate getting dirty. But there was nothing that could stand in my way," said Palmer.
In the middle of the clean-up, Palmer suddenly stopped and started giving total strangers hugs.
"I didn't ask them any questions. I just told them I wanted to give them a hug, because I was glad they were here with us today," said Palmer. "They probably thought, 'Oh, she's crazy.' But I put tears a few in their eyes."
Palmer said the experience has shown her that love triumphs over material things.
"They were very thankful. I mean, it was almost like they were in shock. They couldn't believe it. Why would you want to help? Why would you care? But we showed them that Mississippi does care," she said.
Palmer is planning another trip to Moore, OK. She wants to deliver more supplies and help with the rebuilding. Palmer and her friends are also interested in forming a disaster response team.