Watch CBS News

Ukrainian refugees in Minneapolis head south to help after deadly Mississippi tornadoes

Minnesotans head south to help after Mississippi tornado kills at least 26
Minnesotans head south to help after Mississippi tornado kills at least 26 02:13

MINNEAPOLIS -- Families down south are picking up the pieces after deadly tornadoes upended their lives.

One twister spun through a town in Mississippi on Friday night, flattening everything in its path.

At least 26 people died in the storms. Now, help is on the way from a Minnesota group familiar with disasters.

Several Ukrainian refugees are living in Minneapolis' Dinkytown district. Their homes and home country have been ravaged by a manmade disaster. Their mission now is to help those uprooted by a natural one.

Iryna Hrebebnyk, a Ukrainian refugee, answered the call to help without hesitation, but also without sleep. She works overnights at Home Depot. Her caravan is first heading to Memphis to pick up a truck and supplies, to deliver water, tools, and a message of hope to residents of Rolling Fork, Mississippi.  


"To stay together, to help each other, to encourage each other, like we have. We came from the same disaster, and that's how we grow community," Hrebebnyk said. "That's why we're going there and we want to tell them that."

This whole group of refugees in Dinkytown – the longest any have been here is two to three months – is still learning and absorbing to be and live as an American. Now they're going on a road trip starting near the source of the Mississippi River in the Upper Midwest, and going almost to the mouth, the lower Mississippi River Valley.

Aswar Rahman is the executive director of American Service, the host agency who helped welcome the refugees to Minnesota. This week, he's again leading by example.

"This is an American thing, this is a Minnesotan thing," Rahman said. "I think we sometimes get in this mindset of people who come to this country, you know, that they're helpless and they're not able to contribute and they need to be spoon-fed or whatever. Our people are going against that grain."

"America helped me," Hrebebnyk said. "I'm here…to give it back to somebody."

Help Tornado Survivors

Here are a few organizations that are helping those affected by the deadly tornado:

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.