Published: May 11, 2011 5:00 AM EDT
Updated: May 10, 2011 11:15 PM EDT

FORT MYERS, Fla. - A group of local volunteers are headed to Alabama and Mississippi to continue with the storm cleanup efforts and also to help prepare for potential flooding.

With widespread devastation just a few states away, Salvation Army volunteers and staff are prepping to deliver much-needed relief.
"My heart responds by wanting to help," Community Resource and Volunteer Specialist Kris Volpone said,v "sort of like a mom watching a child and something traumatic happens and you want to go wrap your arms around the child."

Volpone and two others deploy Wednesday to tornado-ravaged Tuscaloosa, Alabama. They'll be serving from a canteen. "It can go into a place where there is no potable water or electricity and it can cook and serve 1,500 meals a day," Volpone said.

Another team is headed to Jackson, Mississippi, where rising floodwaters are beginning to affect tornado disaster areas.

"The reality of what's happening is really setting in for people," Maj. Tom Louden said. "The shock is over and they realize their homes are gone."

As the death toll rises, a big part of their job will be grief counseling. "The best thing you can do in a tragedy like this is to pray for each other," Louden said. "I would just encourage our wonderful community here to lift each other up, and our country, and those who are suffering, up in prayer."

In addition to helping with donations, the salvation army is always looking for more volunteers. Those with certain backgrounds can even be trained and deployed as case managers.