Volunteers from Tennessee Valley heading to help with Hurricane Michael damage

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. -- Hundreds of volunteers from a church here in North Alabama are making the trip down to the panhandle Friday to start working on disaster relief. As of Thursday night, 350 have signed up and they're asking for more hoping to get 500 volunteers.

"It's like a war zone," said Victor Howard, a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Volunteers are taking food, water and clean up supplies, but most importantly they're bringing a shoulder to lean on.

"I think there's a healing effect on people being down there and talking with the people who've been affected, giving them hugs, giving them encouragement, letting them know that they're not just there for this weekend. We're gonna be here for the next month and that gives people hope that they can recover," Howard said.

This congregation is prepared for the long haul; they have the next four weekends lined up for volunteers to head south. Volunteers know it'll be tough work, but one member says work like this changes the communities and the volunteers.

"It unifies us. Everything that we've all seen with natural disaster when you see people come together and help it is so humbling and it's so great to see how it unites us. It doesn't matter of our races, it doesn't matter of our religion all of those things go away we're all human beings, and it's great to see people care for each other," said Mary Howard, a disaster relief volunteer and member of the church.

Howard says she hopes people would come to help Huntsville in a situation like this, but she can't expect that if we don't help others now.

Howard wants to invite anyone here in the Tennessee Valley to volunteer with their church, whether you're a member or not. You can visit the church's volunteer website.