South Chicago man fundraises for housing for Mississippi family members displaced by tornado

Red Cross volunteer, West Side pastor among Chicagoans seeking to help Mississippi tornado victims

ByLeah Hope, Cate Cauguiran, and Christian Piekos WLS logo
Tuesday, March 28, 2023
Chicago man fundraises for MS family members displaced by tornado
A South Chicago is fundraising for his family members, who are Mississippi tornado victims. The Rolling Fork, MS residents were displaced.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Among those watching reports from Rolling Fork Mississippi is a South Chicago man who considers that town to be a second home.

Zach Briscoe said he has at least 35 relative in that area, where a deadly tornado tore through Friday night.

"I felt the pain. It's the roots of our family. Every single one of family members comes from that town, or within 50 miles of that town," Briscoe said. "To hear my aunties describe the encounter, it's just heartbreaking to hear them talk about it. Feeling the vortex, it was pulling them up. They had to literally link arms to stay down."

Mara Thompson booked a one-way ticket to Mississippi. It was her first disaster deployment with the Red Cross.

Chicagoans are going to help those affected by the MS tornado. A Red Cross volunteer and West Side pastor are among those helping.

"Even if I can just be a shoulder to cry on, that's what I want to get out of going down there," Thompson said. "Basically, what our goal is, to make sure that the people who have been affected by this horrible tragedy have everything they need for next steps, whether that's a meal to eat, a place to stay, a shelter."

"Getting the chance to go first-hand and see something like this, I think it's just going to be a really rewarding experience to really help the people that need it, in the time they need it most," Thompson said.

Mara is one of countless volunteers converging on Mississippi after an EF-4 tornado left at least 25 people dead, dozens injured and a 59-mile scar on the state.

SEE ALSO: South reels from deadly tornado outbreak; 2-year-old among numerous dead in Mississippi

"Basically what our goal is to make sure that the people who have been affected by this horrible tragedy have everything they need for next steps, whether that's a meal to eat, a place to stay, a shelter," Thompson said.

Ruth Richardson is another Red Cross volunteer.

Last year, Richardson was deployed to five national disasters, earning her the title of 2022 Disaster Relief Hero. The Tinley Park retired registered nurse said she never retired from helping others.

"When you're there, it's so real," Richardson said. "When the world experiences these disasters that are just so devastating to people, you just want to be able to help and make it better."

The American Red Cross of Greater Chicago says it will have four volunteers and team members on the ground this week, including mental health specialists.

A West Side church is also stepping in to help.

Water bottles, toilet paper, paper towels and other goods line a wall at New Inspirational Missionary Baptist Church on the West Side.

The church's pastor is from hard-hit Mississippi, and plans to deliver the supplies later this week.

"I was devastated seeing the town destroyed, the lives that were lost. We all know how one feels, in a situation like this," said Pastor Andrew Griffin, of New Inspirational Missionary Baptist Church.

In South Chicago, Briscoe said he and his relatives here are working on getting their displaced family members into a more stable situations with crowdsourcing. He started a GoFundMe for them.

"I know they will be able to rebuild. They have the will. The community is there. I want the resources to be there for them," Briscoe said. "One thing that was not destroyed was their ability to keep going. Just powerful, seeing everyone rally around to get it done."

Briscoe hopes to go down this weekend to help his family bringing whatever they need to feel safe and stable for now.

Visit for more information on how to help tornado victims.