Relief teams respond to tornadoes in southern U.S.
The Salvation Army’s disaster relief units have been busy helping sufferers of the storms and tornadoes ripping through the southern United States for the past month.
The Army began assisting tornado victims when first set of storms hit Pinellas County, Fla. on March 31. Then another pair of tornadoes struck Pulaski and Draper, Va. April 8. A week later, the storms spread to Tushka, Okla., Jackson, Miss. and North Carolina. The state’s governor Bev Purdue declared a state of emergency in North Carolina as of April 16. Tornadoes then afflicted Vilona, Ark. on April 25 and continued to roll through northern Alabama, northwest Georgia and southeast Tennessee. Other affected locations include Kentucky and South Carolina.
The most recent bout of deadly storms hit Alabama hard the last week of April. Tuscaloosa and Birmingham were severely affected. NPR reported, “Federal officials say there were more tornadoes on a single day… than on any other day in U.S. history.”
So far, over 300 tornadoes touched down in the south, leading to 350 deaths and billions of dollars worth of damage.
Many smaller towns in Alabama, like Hackleburg, were also devastated. The Red Cross declared the little town 75 percent destroyed.
“Every building in downtown is a pile of rubble. The school is demolished. The largest employer—a Wrangler jeans plant—may not reopen,” NPR said. It also reported it will take years for Southeastern towns like Hackleburg to recover.
As of May 4, the Army continues to serve those in the highly damaged areas. Chattanooga (Tenn.) Area Disaster response has served more than 1,000 victims since April 28. About 38 canteens are spread across Alabama and Mississippi, serving tens of thousands of meals and drinks. The Army also has seven other canteens traveling across Tennessee and Kentucky.
Emergency Disaster Service (EDS)personnel from divisions in the Southern Territory are providing food, drink, emotional and spiritual care to the victims and other resources, like clean-up kits, are available as needed in a number of areas. Salvation Army EDS personnel and mobile feeding units are on standby in Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, Tennessee, Kentucky, Georgia, Virginia, North and South Carolina, Maryland, West Virginia, Florida and Texas. They will serve if needed.