Tornado Victims Need Our Help

I’ve been busy as a bee around here this week working on something very close to my heart.  After the deadly tornadoes that hit many of the Southern states April 27, we’ve been working hard to help families in need.  There has been a huge outpouring of support from all over the nation for the victims of this horrible natural disaster, but the national organizations can’t make sure every single person who was affected has their needs met.

A large number of my mother-in-law’s family lives in Mount Hope, Alabama, a small farming community north of Decatur and Cullman. We were relieved to here they all made it through the storms without any injuries, but their friends and neighbors weren’t so lucky.  My uncle-in-law’s best friend lost his life, and most of his family members were (and still are) hospitalized.  The eldest son’s prognosis isn’t very good, and we do not know if he’ll make it.  The Crosby family’s farm, consisting of 4 family homes, was completely destroyed.  Out of all the homes and barns on their property only 1 house remains, a mobile home that was flipped upside down.

April 27, 2011 Tornado Aftermath

The Crosby family is just one of many families in Alabama that are now facing a hard road.  They have no homes to return to, they’ve lost loved ones, they’ve lost everything they own, and they don’t have the money to recuperate.  They are even struggling to scrape together the funds needed for their Father/Grandfather’s funeral.  The family members who were not hospitalized (3 adults and 4 children) are now living in their aunt’s 1 bedroom apartment because they have no where else to go.  There were 14 lives lost across the county, and numerous other injuries.  Families have been split between hospitals, and the hospitals are so full they are now asking residents to call for a paramedic to come out to their location because they have no room for them in the hospitals.

Then the news started coming in that FEMA and Red Cross hadn’t reached Mount Hope yet.  They were told it would be at least 45 days before power would be restored because the entire county was without power, and the damage to the power system was massive.  The local gas station was destroyed along with many businesses in town.  This left a great number of the residents without homes and jobs to return to.  The other businesses couldn’t operate because of the power loss, and many of the families didn’t know how they would make it without an income for the next 45 days on top of everything else their dealing with.

The next town, 20 miles away, had power, so it was the place to go to get gas and supplies.  Unfortunately things have been selling out quickly, so it’s very hard to get the food and supplies these families need.  Lines at the gas pump are very long, and when they are able to get gas it is rationed.  They must then conserve the small amounts of gas they can buy for emergencies and trips when supplies ran out.  The post office was destroyed, and we have not been able to mail in care packages to the families.

The locals have been doing what they could to help.  Two local churches have been working hard to provide supplies when they can, hand out hot meals to those searching through the rubble, and providing clothing for the families who lost everything.

My aunt-in-law, and her family searched through the rubble left behind from the destroyed homes and barns to rescue all the farm animals that could be found at the Crosby’s.  When the horse barn collapsed 2 horses were killed leaving behind an orphaned foal, and almost all of the others were injured and needing a lot of care.  The horses and other animals were divided between my aunt-in-law’s farm and another family friend’s farm.  Neither had much room or supplies to care for them, but they couldn’t leave them stranded and injured with no care.

The National Guard finally arrived on Friday.  They cordoned off the town, handed out id cards to the residents, and banned non-locals from entering.  Among all the devastation there were many (mostly out of towners, but some locals, too) who were taking advantage of this horrible situation by looting.  They also had sightseers crowding up the roads that were not damaged making it hard for medical help to get through to those who needed it.  We got word that Red Cross finally arrived at the beginning of this week to provide a few hot meals and cold drinks as well as a few supplies, but there just aren’t enough Red Cross teams to setup in every single town that was hit. 

To everyone’s surprise we learned teams worked quickly and power was restored to most residents on Monday.  This is such great news, but there is still a lot more that needs to be done for the residents of Mount Hope to move forward.  FEMA has finally started to arrive at the hospital to start the process of finding housing for those without, but this is also another long process.  There are many small towns all across Alabama that are in the same position right now, and they won’t receive the help they need without individuals and businesses stepping up to help.

When word reached us about the Crosby family and the other families in need in Mount Hope my Mother-in-law, Husband, and I got together and decided we had to do anything we could to help.  So what if my husband is still struggling to find a new job?  We’ve got a roof over our heads, food on our table, and our bills are paid.  We’re going to help in anyway we can, so we decided to sponsor Mount Hope.  We’ve been diligently working all week to raise donations (both supplies and monetary) to help the people in this small farming town.  We’re blessed to live in great communities full of people with big hearts that have graciously donated food, medical, and personal supplies.  Our stack of donations to transport to Alabama is growing little by little, and we’re working hard to expand it.  My husband and mother-in-law will be taking a trip to Mount Hope on May 11th to transport all the donations we can gather.  I wish I could join them (just not possible with the little one), but since I can’t I’m doing everything I can to help gather donations.  We would love to raise enough supplies to make multiple trips ensuring these families have what they need in the months to come as they rebuild, not just presently.

I have setup a ChipIn donation website, and I’m begging (I don’t do this often, so I really really hope you’ll help) that each and every person who has even a single dollar to spare donate to help us provide for the families of Mount Hope, Alabama.  We want to provide them with the things they need to keep going on this road to recovery.  We will be using all the funds we raise to add to our supplies to take to these families, and we’ll be using any leftover funds to help those who are struggling to raise money for cremation/burial costs, housing, etc.  They will be personally handing out supplies to families who are in need, and anything left over (both supplies and money) will be donated to the local churches who stepped up to immediately help these families.  We want to send every single item and cent to this community to help them rebuild their lives.

Items that are needed include:

  • ant poison, bug spray (if you’ve ever been to the Southern states in the Summer months you know bug spray is a must while clearing through the rubble)
  • sunscreen
  • trash bags (for clearing rubble)
  • baby wipes, diapers, formula, and baby food
  • hand sanitizer
  • toiletries and personal care items
  • laundry detergent
  • rubber gloves and work gloves (for clearing rubble)
  • shampoo, conditioner, and soaps
  • paper towels, paper plates, disposable cups and plastic silverware
  • first aid supplies
  • horse feed, chicken feed, cat food, dog food, cat litter, flea spray, and wormer
  • financial contributions (to buy supplies and provide the families with money to help purchase more of the items they need as they get back on their feet)

Also needed are items to help these families recover when they find homes.

  • pots, pans, cooking utensils
  • sheets and other bedding
  • gift cards to purchase other items that will be needed
  • other household items

Please if you have even a dime to donate click on our ChipIn widget in my sidebar or visit our ChipIn page to make a donation.  If you can’t afford to donate but would like to help please consider sharing this post on social networks like Facebook, tweeting, and/or writing your own post to promote our cause.  I am not writing this post for traffic purposes.  I just want to raise money to help out these families in need, so feel free to link to our ChipIn page instead of this post if you would like!

If you live in my area and have items to donate feel free to contact me (jshusterman @ charter . net), and I’ll arrange for the items to be picked up.  As I mentioned we are currently unable to mail in items, so if you would like to send items you can contact me, and I will provide you with shipping information to do so.  We would love to find a business or corporate sponsor willing to help with our cause as well.  If you own a business willing to help (by providing donated items or funds) please contact me to arrange an agreement.

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