Storm Chaser Volunteers To Rebuild Mississippi Family’s Home For Free After Rescuing Them From Deadly Tornado

"I've been building houses my whole life, and this is my calling."

Rolling Fork Tornado

Jonny Gabel

It’s been nearly a week since Jonny Gabel rescued a family from the rubble of their Mississippi home, but his mission to help them has just begun. 

Gabel, a storm chaser from Chicago, was near Jackson on the evening of March 24 when his group learned about a tiny, rural town that had been devastated by an EF4 tornado

"We stopped chasing the storm, and we just went straight into Rolling Fork to help with taking people out, search and rescue," he told People, a Southern Living sister publication.

Gabel recalled being greeted by a "really eerie scene" of exposed electrical wires and a long row of snapped trees. Then he heard someone screaming for help from the remains of a house. 

"So that was the first thing we did. We went straight over to that house,” he told People. “And those were the first people that we helped.”

Gabel shared footage of the rescue on TikTok, including a moment where he can be seen gently carrying a toddler out of the rubble of the collapsing home. 

“Everyone in this family survived. Miraculously. The grandmother had a small cut on her thumb,” he wrote alongside the now-viral video. “We also dug through the rubble of other homes and businesses which were totally collapsed,” Gabel continued. “We unfortunately found some people who didn't make it. Heartbreaking. Devastated.”

It wasn’t long before Gabel heard from an uncle of the little girl, who had come across the video on TikTok. He connected him with the girl’s father who told Gabel that the family owned the home but didn’t have insurance.

Gabel, a carpenter by trade, vowed to rebuild their home for them. 

"I want to build them a new house. I've been building houses my whole life, and this is my calling,” he told People. “This is how I can make an even bigger difference in this world."

 Gabel has established a GoFundMe and is looking to raise $50,000 for materials only, because he plans to provide all the labor himself, free of charge. 

He told Fox Weather that any leftover funds would go to establishing a non-profit he and other storm chaser friends have been trying to start for the past two years. They hope to buy chainsaws and trailers and have a team ready to deploy and help in emergencies.

Last week’s tornado is blamed for at least 21 total deaths in Mississippi, with 13 confirmed in Sharkey County.

Rolling Fork Mayor Eldridge Walker told CNN that his “city is gone.”

“We’re going to come back strong,” he added.

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