The good folks of the Lowrey Team in Huntsville loaned their truck to OUR STATES UNITED affiliate North Alabama Disaster Relief in Ardmore (NADRA) so that they could deliver a load of relief supplies to Hackleburg and Phil Campbell, Alabama. The truck was unloaded there and reloaded with supplies that were desperately needed in Flat Rock, AL. “It is wonderful to see the centers across the state sharing with each other to make sure all of the people in need are taken care of” said Tiffany Watkins of NADRA.
The main reasons I have travelled all over the state is to (1.) Find out where unmet needs are (2.) help find resources to meet those needs and (3.) Make sure the rural areas aren’t forgotten in the weeks and months after the storms.
We’ve reached the stage in the recovery where a vast majority of the populace think everything is fine in most areas and that most of the needs are being met. It is simply not the case. The sad fact is that most of the effort is on the backs of local organizations who deal with their fellow citizens daily. They are quickly depleting their personal resources and soon the only distribution centers to some rural areas will cease to operate. I will endeavor to provide the general public with the information on these operations and it is imperative that they receive the help they need. Many of them are responsible for multiple rural communities where literally thousands have lost everything. We are struggling at this point to get everyone registered with FEMA while simultaneously helping the local leaders set up for long term rebuilding. They have no choice but to be in this for the long haul. They will work as hard as they have all along but they will only succeed with the help of others. This is where you come in.
Click the “How to give” link on stormHOPE.org and it will direct you to the local organizations where help is needed. They will be more than happy to explain the needs of their fellow citizens as many of them have worked 14-16 hour days on their behalf since the immediate aftermath of the storm
In other news…
As I watch Mike Bettis on The Weather Channel my heart hurts for Missouri. I know, however, that the work we have done since the beginning of the recovery has set many examples for them to follow on how to organize online. More importantly I know that the template we are working to build at http://www.ourstatesunited.com will allow states and their good people to be proactive IMMEDIATELY after something like the Joplin, Missouri tornado. With our online organization drop sites would immediately become active. Team leaders would be on the phone getting as much of an assessment as possible. Needs would be posted online, verified, and within the first 12 hours trucks would be set up and within 24 hours be on the ground to the affected areas.
The good updates…
Tiffany Watkins and the ladies of North Alabama Disaster Relief have been an absolute force in the days since the storms. I joined them this weekend as they delivered roughly $5,000 worth of supplies to the Hackleburg, AL area. These were immediate needs that were directly requested. When we arrived, however, we were pleased to find that one organization had plenty of baby food and formula- so much so that they loaded the truck we had just unloaded so that it could be delivered to a community 100 miles away. That same community was checking things they could send to Hackleburg. I know of no Alabama city or town that is hoarding things- even as understandable as that would be in some areas. They are sharing resources in ways that are unlike anything I have ever witnessed. The hardest hit areas are taking care of each other. They both know that they are in it for the long haul. Let’s join them and make sure everyone is taken care of and no one is forgotten.
Telling the story of a traumatic event in one’s life is an excellent way to work through what the person experienced. Just the other night I saw a story on the local news and a doctor was being interviewed about how the tornado victims could cope with all of the emotions they have after the storm. His advice? Journaling. He said that writing down what you experienced is a good way to work through it. April 27th is a day none of us will ever forget. As I have traveled around Alabama I have heard countless stories and recorded many of them to be shared on this website. Stories have been told on Facebook and pictures are all over the internet documenting this historic event in the southeast.
I traveled to Phil Campbell and Hackleburg, AL today to document some of the stories and capture some of the images from that area. As you come into the area on AL 17 the destruction is beyond words. The forest on either side of the road is flattened and then on the right is the Wrangler plant which is nothing more than mangled metal and tractor trailers.
The Reins of Life Distribution Center in Hamilton was my first stop and they had just received the two brand new refrigerators that were provided by St. Andrew’s Church in Madison, AL. They are going to use these to provide milk to the people that they are assisting. Special thanks to Jason, the manager of Lowe’s in Florence for helping with the refrigerators and delivering them to the distribution center!
During my visit I spoke with several people and will be working on posting video tomorrow of the interviews. It is hard to wrap my mind around what I saw today. The one thing that stuck out in my head was the fact that I did not see any of the typical insurance company marks on damaged homes indicating they were insured. These people will be struggling to recover for a long time to come and we need to get the word out that they need our help! Find out how you can help by contacting email Reins of Life.
The relief distribution center in Hamilton, AL is serving the people of Hackleburg, Shotsville, Shiloh, Pea Ridge, W. Hamilton, Fykes Crossing, Bexar, Hodges and Detroit. These are some photos that were taken on April 17th during our visit there to deliver relief supplies. The center is being run by the wonderful people of Reins of Life Youth Ranch after the Red Cross pulled out.