Hometown Strong

After a tornado swept through Laurel, Mississippi, locals Erin and Ben Napier of HGTV’s Home Town start a fundraiser to help get their community back on its feet

Photo: All Photos Courtesy of Erin Napier

A damaged home in Laurel, Mississippi.

On Monday, December 16, a barrage of tornadoes ripped a path through Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama, killing at least three people and causing immense damage throughout the region. Laurel, Mississippi, made famous by Erin and Ben Napier’s HGTV show, Home Town, was one of the places hit especially hard. 

The Napiers sustained a few broken windows in their living room and lost power, but overall, their home escaped relatively unscathed. Their neighbors, though, weren’t so fortunate. “A lot of chimneys were blown down, which caused roof damage,” Erin says. Across town, the business and historic districts, a public school, and a lower-income neighborhood were all destroyed. “That area was already worse for the wear,” Erin says. “So many families lost their roofs. They have no heat and the high today was in the forties.” 

Ben Napier joins neighbors clearing debris.

A local nonprofit, the Glory House, sprang into action immediately, providing food and shelter to the community. Many residents, including Ben Napier, took to the streets with chainsaws to help clear debris and check on their neighbors. Even local businesses, such as the Napiers’ Laurel Mercantile, pitched in. “We came up with a print today that we’re selling, and donating profits to Glory House and the school district,” Erin says. “It says ‘Hometown Strong.’ We did something similar for the California wildfires and raised around six thousand dollars.” Find the posters here, or donate directly to the Glory House here