OKLAHOMA/ALABAMA - A group of church kids from Oklahoma really wanted to prepare care packages for the kids in Alabama affected by the tornadoes. They each made a care package and also a card of hope and encouragement for the kids that would receive them. Once they finished their care packages they shipped them to Melia Harvey in Alabama along with a box full of items they had left over and also a box full of handmade blankets. Melia is orginally from Oklahoma but now lives in Tuscaloosa. She contacted Billie-Jo Maxcey with S.A.F.E. (Stuffed Animals For Emergencies). The boxes wouldn’t fit in the trunk of her car and were so heavy that she and Billie-Jo both had to carry them. When asked about the contribution Maxcey said, “These kids made some wonderful care packages for kids of all ages. We can’t wait to distribute these out to the kids in Alabama. This is a such an inspirational story to show everyone that no matter how old you are you can make a difference. The Oklahoma kids are going to bless so many other kids with their love and support. They are forever in my heart. We love Oklahoma!!”
HANCEVILLE, AL - From the time girls hit their teens they dream of two events in their lives, their wedding day and their senior prom. You can hardly pinpoint the exact date of your wedding when you are thirteen, but you can narrow down your prom pretty well. You know what year, and you know it will be sometime that spring. Having marked that date in your mind, nothing much can interfere…unless a tornado blows away half of your town and maybe your dress.
That was the case when the Hanceville (Alabama) High School senior girls returned to school after the horrendous storm. They had other things on their minds until then, but seeing each other all together at school reminded them of just how close it was to prom night, and it wasn’t a pretty thought. There was talk of calling it off altogether.
A lot of families just couldn’t afford prom, not after loosing their homes, missing work, and restocking the freezer after days of power outages caused them to have to throw away their extra food. Things were looking dismal; there weren’t many smiling faces when prom was mentioned.
Then came the unexpected…you might say a fairy godmother appeared out of the blue. Just two days before prom, teachers met to hear the offer of dresses, shoes, corsages, boutonnieres, and even hair and make-up, free for the Hanceville High School Seniors of 2011, courtesy of Operation Prom.
Operation Prom is the brainchild of Ashley Murray, Lauren Jones, and Jade Rossetti, who all recalled what special nights their own proms were and wanted others to have their special nights to remember.
Friends since high school, the three young women were sitting around talking when the power was out. “We had been out volunteering around our
area, picking up limbs and such, and we started talking about doing something else to help,” said Murray. “Someone mentioned that it was prom time and we hit on an idea to help because prom is expensive and now there was this disaster on top of it.”
“We were blessed in our endeavor,” she said. “We found a building belonging to Frank Pitts, which he generously offered to loan us for one weekend – it’s been three weeks now. Hanceville was our third Operation Prom. We have been very successful in pounding the pavement for dresses, shoes, jewelry, cosmetics and flowers.”
“Right after the storm flowers shot up really high, but Cosco stepped up and donated the flowers for the corsages and boutonnieres,’ said Murray. “Casey Clark, owner of ‘Poor Little Rich Girl’ donated all the jewelry in her shop to the effort.”
As part of the phenomenon of Operation Prom, various make-up artists, hairstylists, nail technicians and other volunteers also stepped up to be a part of this joyful chance to give someone something that will be one of the best memories of their lives.
“I think this is the most rewarding thing I’ve ever been a part of,” said Murray. “Sometimes when the girls first come in they are a little shy, but after they see themselves all pampered and looking beautiful, they leave with big smiles of self-confidence.”
The trio was even able to receive a little help with tuxedos for the guys. Prom Dresses for Tornado Victims, a similar organization headed by Vicky Shields, also donated dresses when it came time for the Hanceville Prom.
The girl’s gratefully accepted the offer. Some of them already had their dresses, but they went to see what this unexpectedly…[READ THE REST OF THE ARTICLE HERE]
Reprinted with permission of the Cullman Times
HUNTSVILLE, AL - The Rocket City Mustang Club teamed up to provide $2000 in relief supplies through North Alabama Disaster Relief of Ardmore (NADRA). NADRA has been providing relief supplies on behalf of their community to approximately 15 communities on Sand Mountain, Flat Rock, Hackleburg, Hamilton, Phil Campbell, Arab, Ruth, Moulton, Toney, Harvest, Capshaw, East Limestone, Ider, Anniston, Cordova, Tuscaloosa, and Northport, all of which were devastated by the April 27th storms.
The Rocket City Mustang Club, located in Madison County Alabama, promotes the restoration, preservation, and enjoyment of Mustangs and serves as a source of information concerning these automobiles for the benefit of its members as well as the general public. The Club is a chartered regional group of the Mustang Club of America (MCA)and meets every third Tuesday of the month at Lonestar Steakhouse in Huntsville, AL at 7 pm.
Author’s Note: First published in The Moulton Advertiser (Alabama’s oldest weekly newspaper) this little article was intended for our local heros who were out in the community before the wind even died down, pulling their neighbors from the debris and cranking chainsaws to free up access so that emergency vehicles could gain access to the hardest hit areas. The term ‘rednecks’ is used with affection to recognize those unsung hero’s and the acts of kindness and bravery they performed with no thought of ever being applauded for it. Well, although I am humbled and in awe of the response, truthfully I never thought anyone outside our community would ever see it. Then the worst thing imaginable happened and tornado’s swept through other towns and cities in several states - over and over again, bringing with them more and even greater devastation. Yet in each case, those who first came to the aid of the victims was usually a person put in the position of being nearest at the time, or having the necessary equipment to facilitate the excavation of buildings that had caved in, trapping people underneath mountains of debris. Those men and women, no matter what name they are called, be it rednecks, goat ropers, crackers, or swamp rats, are the people who know the value of having a chain saw, a rope, or a pair of jumper cables in the trunk of their car or the back of their pick-up truck. They don’t have to consult a manual to learn how to use them, either. So, dear rednecks, wherever you may be in this great country, this one’s for you! - Loretta Gillespie
Most all of us who hail from the South have born the brunt of remarks from people from other areas of the country about being rednecks. Well, I’m here to tell you right now that I love me some Southern rednecks!
Rednecks have Poulan chainsaws, bulldozers, four-wheelers and big ol’ trucks – and they know how to use ‘em. They aren’t afraid of getting dirty or of hard work, either.
As soon as the wind died down they were the first ones out there clearing the roads for emergency vehicles to get to where they needed to be. They were standing up to their knees in debris so that people could get out of their driveways or be from underneath mountains of rubble. They were checking on neighbors who lived in the hardest hit areas where cars and normal vehicles didn’t stand a chance, and stopping to pull strangers from their mangled cars.
If you were the victim of the storm and found your driveway miraculously cleared, you can thank a redneck. If you have a brush pile a mile high and you didn’t do it yourself, you can thank a redneck. If someone brought you a shirt to put on your back that day, or hauled your furniture to a storage facility, or just tossed you a bottle of water from the cooler on the tailgate of their truck, you can probably thank a redneck.
Those good ol’ boys waded through water filled with gas and glass, nails and torn tin roofs and no telling what else to offer assistance to people stranded in the rubble of their homes. They wore faded camo jackets and John Deere caps, spit tobacco and more than likely did a little cussing, but they got the job done, and they are the ones who are still out there cutting up trees and burning brush long into the night, just as they have been ever since the storms hit.
They didn’t wait to be asked…they just ‘got ‘er done’ in the truest sense of the phrase. They didn’t stand around jawing and waiting for someone else to take charge, they went to work doing what they do best – moving earth, pushing aside massive trees with root systems as big around as a VW, and tossing aside boards with splinters the size of kitchen knives.
And they did all this without any thought of their own comfort or safety. They put their scuffed cowboy boots and worn work boots on the ground and tread across roof beams and unsteady floors to make sure there was no one left inside the wreckage of everything from office buildings and two –story brick houses to mobile home and barns. They already had a flashlight and a pocket knife with them.
They rounded up their neighbor’s cattle and horses and coaxed kittens out of trees where the wind had tossed them and they cried like babies when they found someone’s hunting dog broken and bleeding.
They waded into poultry houses and caught terrified chickens, and tossed mountains of dead ones onto piles to burn. They began to hang tarps and nail plywood over broken windows to save their kin folk’s belongings. They didn’t stop for hours on end, hooking chains to cars, trees and any and everything that had landed helter-skelter as the tornados tore through.
Rednecks just show up when there is work to be done. They drive up and with a silent nod, they just pitch in, salvaging refrigerators and hooking up generators. They don’t care if they look cool and they don’t have to shave before they leave the house. They are tough as nails and love their mamas fiercely. They still say ‘Yes, ma’m’ and ‘No, sir,’ to anyone older than they are. They eat cornbread and pinto beans and drink tea so sweet a spoon will stand straight up in the glass. They sweat and swear and have grease under their nails sometimes. They can change a flat tire or deliver a calf and half an hour later be sitting in church, scrubbed to a fare-the-well. And, boy, did they ever save the day when the thunder rolled and the lightning flashed and the wind knocked down the houses where they were born?
They don’t do it for the glory, and wouldn’t dream of taking a dime for it, and are sometimes even offended if someone asks how much they are owed ‘cause that’s what rednecks do – they drive loud trucks, bobcats and front-end loaders, they crank cantankerous chain saws and they know the feel of rope burns and blistered faces. They get those red necks from the sun beating down relentlessly as they labor in the dust and smoke from all the brush fires. They think sun-screen is for sissies and they don’t worry much about anti-bacterial soap or drink fruit- flavored water. And, contrary to what you might have seen in the media, most of them have a mouth full of teeth.
Give me a Southern redneck any day when trouble comes – when fences get blown over, lightning strikes and the lights go out, when there are trees and houses strewn like matchsticks as far as the eye can see, what in the world would we do without these rednecks?
Thanks to all of you dear rednecks, wherever you are. You deserve medals for what you have done in the past few weeks. And don’t think the world didn’t notice - they did. In fact, somebody is probably writing a country song about you as you read this.
HAMILTON, AL – There have been so many amazing stories from the April 27th storms that ravished our neighbors, every one we hear still brings tears to our eyes! The winds tore through entire communities, we lost loved ones, and many pets and livestock were lost or displaced as well. We still mourn with our neighbors, but the joy they share as they rebuild together is like nothing we have ever been part of…
This…. Is the story of the painted horse…. Our friends at Reins of Life near Hackleburg, AL, have not only been providing a haven for their neighbors…. They are providing shelter to their neighbor’s horses until they can rebuild their homes and fences. One special Mare has won their heart… Pregnant and injured, she sustained lacerations to her chest and legs and another approximately 2 foot long by 2 inches wide across her abdomen…. The vet was unsure if she would make it, and pretty sure the colt would not be born alive.
Our friends at Reins of Life did all they could to try to save the Mare and her colt; working hours upon hours providing disaster relief with one goal in mind, to take care of their neighbors, as they would want to be taken care of themselves…. And that included taking care of all of their neighbor’s needs. We, at NORTH ALABAMA DISASTER RELIEF OF ARDMORE could not be more blessed to help Reins of Life in their mission, and offer many thanks to everyone across North Alabama who have stepped up to help us help them…
With all their efforts (which some would have called foolish) in taking care of this special Mare, even when the outlook was grim… We are proud to share…. IT’S A GIRL! AND SHE’S A PAINT! God bless those who are helping meet ALL the needs of their neighbors… You show us, through actions, exactly what God had in mind when He said, “Thou shalt love your neighbors as yourself.”
YUKON, OK – The stormHOPE.org Weekend Warriors were back out at Guy McClintock’s place again Sunday. Here are a few photos from their work out there. Thanks to ALL who have been there to help their neighbors in Oklahoma!
TUSCALOOSA, AL – Eoline Volunteer Fire Department was among the devistation left on April 27. Twelve people took shelter in the fire department before the storm and when it lifted only the bathroom walls were left. Thankfully no one had more than minor injuries. The Eoline community was devastated to see what had taken many years to create taken away in just a few seconds. Later that night a house caught fire and burned to the ground while we stood and watched as we waited for a fire truck to come from a neighboring community. It was like God was showing us what it would be like without the fire department if we didn’t build back. So now we are working to raise money to rebuild. We are having Fun Day on June 11, 2011 and we hope you will be our partner as we begin our long road back to the community strength we once were. If you can donate or would like to volunteer for FUN DAY please email me at email@example.com or call me at 205-361-3622. Eoline is 25 miles east of Tuscaloosa on highway 82. Please come and join us for a FUN DAY of games, food, and activities.
Submitted by Donna Kornegay
PIEDMONT, OK - It has been one week since a deadly tornado outbreak struck our state. The storm system spawned tornadoes across Oklahoma, leading to ten deaths, numerous injuries and mass destruction. Unfortunately, not even rescue workers were spared the damage.
Piedmont Firefighter Trevor Wittick says, “We were going through houses and I noticed, that’s where my house used to be.” [if video does not load please refresh page]
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HAMILTON, AL -About fourteen miles down AL-17 from Hackleburg you will find the small town of Hamilton; a small town with a HUGE heart. Their neighbors to the north in Hackleburg bore the brunt of an eF5 tornado that virtually destroyed their town on April 27th. Virtually every public building in town was destroyed or heavily damaged and the county’s largest employer, the Wrangler jean plant was flattened. Dozens of people lost their lives and hundreds of homes were destroyed. A tragedy for any town but especially for Hackleburg a town of only 1,600 people. But the story doesn’t stop in this town as this monster tornado ripped through several other small towns and crossroads in Marion county leaving hundreds of people without homes and jobs.
When the Red Cross pulled out of their relief center in Hamilton they asked the mayor Bobby Holliday if there was a non-profit that could step up and take over the relief center. Frieda Palmer and Jeff Martin owners of the Reins of Life Youth Ranch didn’t hesitate a minute in deciding to jump in and help their fellow citizens. Every day since May 1st the Reins of Life Disaster relief center has received donations from around Alabama and the country and worked tirelessly to get them into the hands of those who desperately need them. This part of Alabama is very remote and with the major employer in the area out of business the needs will be ongoing here for quite some time. Even with all the needs here this town shared from their stores with the people in the mid-west [see article]
A little background on the Reins of Life Youth Ranch which is located on 85 acres just outside of town. It is a full time ministry that has had to cancel fundraisers that they depend on to continue to operate. Since taking on the relief effort they have only taken in $350. Their horse rescue program is geared towards children of disadvantaged, low income situations who come out to the ranch to learn about farm life and help care for the horses. The children ‘earn’ riding lessons and these lessons help them build confidence, conquer fears and develop compassion. [more about Reins of Life]
If you would like to help support them as they continue to meet the daily needs of the people of Marion County, Alabama you may make your donation through PayPal.
Reins of Life
267 Cotton Gin Road
Hamilton, AL 35570
Reins of Life Youth Ranch is a non-profit 501 (c)3 and all donations are tax deductible.
For more information contact Frieda at 205-546-0955
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