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Eight Days of Hope expanding operations for quick response

Reported by: Tyler Hill
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Updated: 7/14/2014 10:39 pm
TUPELO, Miss. (WTVA) - Eight Days of Hope has finished day three of its mission in Tupelo, and on Monday, organization leaders announced some exciting news for its volunteers, something that will affect thousands of people across the country.

When disaster strikes, volunteer groups jump at the opportunity to help. Eight Days of Hope is one of those groups.

For the past eight years, it's traveled the country helping in the wake of disasters, but rounding up thousands of volunteers isn't easy and takes time.

"It's takes six, nine, maybe 10 months after the disaster," said Steve Tybor, DOH Founder. "Tupelo is the quickest response we've ever done."

But Tybor think he's found the answer to make it even quicker and help immediately - a new, rapid response team that hits the ground running within 48 hours after a disaster occurs.

"So many times, a disaster comes, and people need tarps on roofs. They need chainsaw work done," Tybor said.

There will be ten regions in the country. When a disaster happens, 24 people from that region will help out: covering roofs, cutting trees, hauling debris, etc.

"They'll be ready to go on a minutes notice," Tybor added.

Those volunteers will help for two weeks. "We think we can tarp as many as 16 roofs a night at no charge," Tybor explained.

Chris Chiles will lead the new team, and wait until you read his story.

The first time he stepped foot in Tupelo was during the "Build for Beth" project. He led the team that renovated the home of a Tupelo police officer's widow.

"I came, had an awesome time, fell in love with Tupelo, and I felt the Lord calling me to live in Tupelo," Chiles said. "But it didn't make sense at the time. We [his family] had no reason to live in Tupelo."

That is until two weeks later when the tornado hit Tupelo.

"I got the earliest flight I could and flew back," he said.

Since then, he's moved his family from Virginia, sold his house in eight days, has been given a home in New Albany and has acquired a free plot of land to build a new house.

And he did all of this to lead the new team that will help thousands of people around the country.

"Now we're gonna be able to go year round to spread the gospel and get all of these volunteers involved in their local communities when disasters hit," Chiles said. "We'll be ready, so I'm excited."

The name of the rapid response team will be chosen this week by volunteers from Tupelo's Eight Days of Hope.

Tybor said they plan to have the team up and running by September 1, no later than October 1.

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