St. John Parish woman puts life on hold to help tornado victims - FOX 8, WVUE,, weather, app, news, saints

St. John Parish woman puts life on hold to help tornado victims

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Volunteers from around the country converge on Laplace to help in the tornado clean-up effort. But for one young woman, the mission is personal. She's given up everything to help her community in need.

Working from sun up to sun down, volunteers with Hope Reigns go from lot to lot in Laplace, helping to clean up after last week's EF-2 tornado.          

“God's been good to me and I was grateful because I could've lost everything, so who am I to not help out?” Reserve resident Kiera Jones said Tuesday.

Watching the devastating images on her TV screen of people's lives ripped apart, 25-year-old Jones felt helpless.

“I didn’t have any direction of where to go or how to get involved,” she said.

Reaching out to parish officials, Jones connected with a faith-based group comprised mostly of out-of-towners like 76-year-old George Surman.

“They've done a bunch of trips, and I've only missed two. This is the tenth one, I think,” Surman said. 

Jones decided to take a break from her work as an industrial inspector to tarp roofs, cut tree limbs and sift through debris.

“This is my community and a lot of the people we're helping, I know personally,” Jones said.

Today, she's been named project manager of this group. The veteran here approves.

“She’s a little young, and she’s got a lot to learn, but I’ve got her under my advanced training program and I believe by the time we leave here, around the 5th or 6th of March, she'll be well qualified,” Surman said.           

It's not easy work, but it is much appreciated.

“They're going out of their way and they really don’t have to do it, but they're doing it and it’s a blessing," said homeowner Mary Atkins. "That’s all I can say. It’s a blessing.”

Jones said she feels blessed, too, to have the ability to come out and help others in need. She truly believes it's the least she can do and hopes it inspires others to do the same.

The group Hope Reigns plans to keep working in Laplace until March 6. Jones said she hopes to get together local residents to continue their work, after the non-profit leaves. If you're interested in volunteering, contact St. John Parish.

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