Arena Turns Into Shelter To House Tupelo Homeless

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Damage in Tupelo after the April 28, 2014, tornado / Courtesy of @tabithahawk

(Tupelo, MS) The tornado cut sort of a diagonal path through Tupelo, causing damage to mostly the eastern edge of town.

Cleanup here will take some time, but relief groups set up here within hours, giving people here the chance for a break from all the devastation.

Two-thousand Tupelo homes sit as just shells, or piles of rubble.

That’s 2,000 families who need help.

Some have found it with relatives, the rest come to the Bancorp South Arena, which has become the region’s largest disaster shelter.

”We’ve had about five thousand people come through. We’ve had seventy one people stay in our shelter last night. Today we fed about 250 during lunch,” said Cheryl Kocurek of the American Red Cross.

It’s the one place where people cleaning up downed trees, doing home repairs, or even just salving a few unbroken items from what’s left of a home, can go for a friendly smile, and a hot meal.

National Guard troops have come to help secure badly damaged areas, helping the police and sheriff’s departments keep order.

Power crews from several states have come to help restore electricity and some semblance of normalcy.

No one has dared put a dollar figure on the damage here, and most still remain in shock that it happened in the first place.

That’s why Kocurek says the Red Cross is here for the long-haul, to tend to the human needs here, which will only grow with time.

”We’ll be here in the shelter for as long as necessary, but we’ll be in the community for months and years to come”.

Kocurek says the Red Cross has many needs here, needs that can best be filled with donations of money to the cause.

To donate, call 1-800-red-cross, go to, or text “redcross” to 90999.