There is a staggeringly small amount of media attention being directed at the horrific devastation and continued difficulties of the Southern US following hellabad tornadoes from storms that hit the region 25-28 April 2011. Over 300 people were killed from the confirmed
189 different tornadoes
– excuse me, according to the NOAA, 305 tornadoes from the storm, and with flooding, destruction, rain, and so many missing, the situation isn’t getting better any time soon. But I haven’t heard anything about it on the tv as much as I have on Twitter. The news hasn’t changed since the storm, though things are slowly improving, from what I can learn from local residents.
If you’d like to help, I have a few links and a few options for donation and assistance.
First, if you’re nearby, volunteers are desperately needed.
If you’d like to donate monetarily, the American Red Cross is one option. I know in the US, you can send the text message “REDCROSS” to 90999 to make a $10 donation.
Another option is to donate to the Alabama food banks, which are serving many, many people right now. According to their website, none of their facilities suffered damage and they’re open – and helping a lot of folks who have no food, water, power, or possibly homes any longer.
This page at Magic City Post has a hugely comprehensive list of ways to help and resources for those seeking aid. (Thanks to Moira Rogers for the link).
And of course, because the writing community is made of unparalleled awesome, Help Write Now is organizing a community auction of goods and services to benefit the Red Cross disaster relief fund.
But if you’re like me, you want to gather up donation items and mail them down now, to know you’re doing something immediately that might help a little bit. Bitchery member Samantha wrote to me that:
It’s a bit like a war zone around here – National Guard trucks everywhere, a curfew in effect, buildings that look like they’ve been bombed – and every bit of help that people are willing to offer, we are willing and happy to accept.
Every day, Tuscaloosa becomes easier to navigate, with more trees being cleared away and more roads being opened. So I’m sure the Postal Service and/or UPS would be able to get donations to anywhere in Tuscaloosa people ship them. Several places around town have been set up as relief centers, accepting everything from food and water to clothes, toiletries, diapers, baby wipes, and tarps. The United Way of West Alabama (http://www.uwwa.org/news.html) and the Red Cross are probably the most well-organized relief set-ups around.
If you can’t ship directly to the United Way, individual citizens who still have an address (myself included) would, I’m sure, be more than happy to accept donations and get them to the appropriate places in town. The people who lost homes and are living in the shelters could use toiletries. Food and water have been brought in literally by the truckload (not that canned food would be turned away), but things like tampons and toothbrushes and deodorant and diapers get overlooked (and are lightweight and easily packed and shipped). I think I saw an urgent plea for laundry detergent this morning. Anyone willing to send clothes that they or their kids have outgrown would also be appreciated.
Then, of course, there’s Charlie Sheen, accepting monetary donations on behalf of the city following his visit earlier this week. http://torpedosagainsttornados.com/
Also, I’d like to point out that Tuscaloosa, though it’s gotten the most press, has not been the only town affected. The nearby cities of Cullman, Alberta, and Hackleburg are all suffering from the same devastation and getting less attention from the rest of the country.
Having lived through events that unify very disparate people with common emotions of empathy and a desire to help immediately, I know I’m not alone in wanting to help from far, far away. If you have any ideas or suggestions as to how we can help out the storm recovery, please do leave a comment.
And if you’d like to donate basic items like shampoo, toothbrushes, toothpaste, and other toiletries, we can coordinate a mailing location for your donation so you can ship it directly to someone via UPS, FedEx or USPS, who will then deliver the goods where they’re needed. Email me at sarahATsmartbitchestrashybooksDOTcom with Southern Relief in the subject line and I’ll get you some addresses for shipping some help down south.
Susan sent me this link to items needed at local churches who are coordinate relief efforts. I contacted WAPI in Birmingham, Alabama, and they were kind enough to put me on the air and give me a list of items that were needed for donation – all of which are lightweight and easy to ship:
-shoes (gently used)
-men, women, kids shoes especially
-all manner of toiletries
ETA: One of my maildrop volunteers asked at the local relief station, and they said they also need bug spray and duct tape.
As I said above, if you want to mail items to folks in need, I have a few volunteers who have asked to be mail drop locations, where FedEx, UPS and the USPS are delivery without impediment. If you’d like the address of a maildrop volunteer so you can send items to help, please email me at sarahATsmartbitchestrashybooksDOTcom, with Southern Relief in the subject line, and I’ll hook you up with an address. THANK YOU to the maildrop volunteers and for those who want to help. Those flat rate Priority Mail boxes have NEVER looked so awesome, huh?
And to those down South, probably without internet: even though there may not be tv cameras pointed at you, we are thinking of you, and we want to help. Y’all stay safe.