Mount Hope Damage Video

I’ve been working to get the video footage I took in Mount Hope somewhat edited, and I finally have that for you.  I’m sorry for the horrible quality, but the video below is compiled from smaller segments I shot with my cell phone while touring some of the areas hit by the F5 tornado.  What you will see is post cleanup around most areas.  Some areas will take many months to clean up while others could only be bulldozed away after all belongings that could be salvaged were found.

It was a horrible sight to see, and many areas looked like a war zone.  I have photos to share from some areas that I couldn’t video, and I will have those up soon.  Please keep all of the families in all of the states that were effected by these tornadoes in your thoughts and prayers.  It’s going to be a long road of recovery for most of them.

While watching the video you will notice many RVs and smaller campers.  These are the new homes for many families while others had to find community members to stay with.  14 people lost their lives in Lawrence County.  Many others are still hospitalized from serious injuries, and many of those people will no longer have homes to return to when they recover.

Also notice the large number of gravel and dirt driveways as well as concrete foundations sitting alone in the middle of what seems to be a clearing.  These are all that is left of homes that once stood across the area.

You will also hear one of our family members narrating the seen as we drove around.  These people were more than victims to her.  They are (and some were) her neighbors and friends.  She has been doing everything she can to help her small community, and she is helping to deliver the supplies we were able to give to this small farming community.

If you are in a position to donate anything we are still accepting donations.  We have delivered the first load of supplies, but more will be needed.  We will be making many more trips to Alabama to deliver whatever we can collect, especially items that will be needed when these families start to find more permanent homes.  By donating even $1 you will be helping families who have nothing rebuild their lives.

Currently the local churches and donation sites across the county are asking for pots and pans, kitchen utensils, towels, bedding, and other household items.  Most importantly they need underwear in all sizes and genders immediately.  Even though many clothing donations are pouring in underwear is not something that is being donated.  A large portion of the donated money was used today to purchase underwear in all sizes for both genders, but more will still be needed.  Our ChipIn donation site is currently active through May 31st, and it will be extended if need be.  If you would like to donate supplies or via another method please contact me (jshusterman @ charter . net), and I will arrange away for you to do so!

A VERY Big Thank You!

I want to say thank you to all the wonderful people who have stepped up to help us provide as much as we can for the people of Mount Hope, Alabama.  I’ve had people contacting me all day wanting to know how they can help and where they can drop off goods. I have a nice collection of food and paper products stacking up right now, and there are so many more donations pouring in.

Lighthouse Food FarmI want to extend my gratitude to Farmer Jim and the Lighthouse Food Farm for donating 6 cases of water!  Farmer Jim runs the Lighthouse Food Farm because he is on a mission to help feed the hungry.  The Food Farm provides fresh organic fruits and vegetables that are grown locally to soup kitchens, food banks, shut-ins, elderly, and families trying to make ends meet all across Upstate South Carolina.  Just recently the Food Farm has expanded to providing fresh fruits and vegetables for others across the nation.

Even though fruits and vegetables aren’t something that we feel we can provide these families right now (many do not have homes, some are still without power), Farmer Jim quickly donated a staple that is needed immediately, fresh uncontaminated water.  We know residents do have water, but many farm communities rely on well water, well water that can quickly become contaminated by chemicals and toxins seeping into the ground after a disaster such as this one.

For more information on all the wonderful things Lighthouse Food Farm is doing to help those in need and how you can help, too, please check out Farmer Jim’s Lighthouse Food Farm website, Facebook page, and Youtube Channel!

*Update*

Check out the SFNToday.com interview with Farmer Jim about the Lighthouse Food Farm!

What Would You Do If You Lost Everything?

Today I want to tell you about a family, just one of many, who lost everything in the deadly tornadoes that hit Alabama.  This is just one of many families whose lives were devastated by the tornadoes on April 27, 2011.  We are raising donations to take to this community to help families like the one you will read about below.  Please read their story, and even though I usually don’t ask for donations via my blogs I’m begging you to please help if you have the means to do so.  No donation is too small, and every penny will go to help this small farming community recover.

The Crosby family are old family friends.  The Grandfather, Earl, and my husband’s uncle have been the best of friends since they were young boys.  They grew up together in Florida, and eventually the Crosby’s moved to Mount Hope, Alabama to be closer to Ben’s uncle’s family.  Over the years their little farm has grown to a farm with 4 family homes where they raised horses and other animals.

When the 1/2 mile wide tornado hit Mount Hope, Alabama, Earl’s family suffered greatly.  All four family homes were destroyed.  Earl lost his life, and many other family members are hospitalized.  In fact the only family members who are not in the hospital are the 3 grandchildren and one of Earl’s daughters.  His wife is, Barbara, was severely injured, and she is currently in one hospital.  Their son is in critical condition in another hospital.  He was injured so severely part of his skull had to be removed, and his prognosis isn’t good.  One of the daughter’s was recovering from surgery she had a week before the tornado, and now she is hospitalized with a severe infection.  Earl’s sister-in-law is also hospitalized with injuries.

All 4 grandchildren were treated for injuries, but thankfully they weren’t severe and were released.  Now the 4 grandchildren are staying with their aunt in a 1 bedroom apartment.  The patriarch of the family lost his life, and only the one sister has a home to return to.

 

 

This is just a glimpse of the damage caused when one home was destroyed.
This is just a glimpse of the damage caused when one home was destroyed.

Friends and neighbors in Mount Hope have spent the week doing what they can to search through the rubble to rescue the farm animals (that didn’t pass away when the barn collapsed), find any belongings that could be found (not many at all), and start a cleanup process.  Friends have taken in the remaining horses, and they are now struggling to keep them fed.  One mother horse lost her life, and they are now bottle feeding the baby.  Many of the other horses and animals were injured and need care throughout the day.

These families have been trying to care for what’s left of the Crosby’s farm while caring for their own families.  Power has been restore (thankfully a month before expected), but supplies are still very much needed.  Most food and supplies must be purchased in another town 20 miles away because many businesses in this small farming community were destroyed by the tornado.  It is very hard for the families to get the supplies they need because they can’t purchase the gas they need to pick up supplies.  After driving to another town to get gas and supplies they must wait in long lines at the pump where they are then rationed on their gas purchase.   They must conserve the gas they are able to buy because many of the families don’t have jobs to return to and have already exhausted any savings they had.

Now that the power has been restored a few have been able to return to work, but it’s still going to be a long road of recovery for the people of Mount Hope, especially those like Earl’s family.  The National Guard and Red Cross has been through the area, but they can’t setup to provide these families with everything they need.  There just aren’t enough resources available, and they are greatly needed in the bigger areas of Tuscaloosa and Birmingham.  There are many of these small farming towns who were hit by those deadly tornadoes, and the people in these towns must rely on donations from individuals and small churches to help.

With the power back on some of the more immediate needs have been met thanks to the local church groups and other individuals helping.  Many things are still needed, though, especially for the families who lost everything.  Without homes to return to they have nothing more than the clothes that have been provided by Red Cross and the church groups.

My mother-in-law and my husband will be making a trip to Alabama on May 11th to transport donated items we have gathered.  We have been blessed with great communities of our own who are willing to help, but some things are still greatly needed.

I will be raising donations to purchase items for the Crosby family and other families that have been affected in Mount Hope.  We will be purchasing items that have not been donated (or are needed in greater quantities), and I have setup a donation site through ChipIn.  All money raised will go to purchase items needed.  Leftover funds will be used to purchase a few gift cards to help families get back on track, and the rest will be donated to one of the local churches who has been providing clothing and hot meals to the families in need in Mount Hope.  Updates, as we get them, are also being posted on the Mount Hope, Alabama Tornado Relief Fund Chip In Page.

Please if you have the ability to do so consider donating anything you can, no matter how small the amount is.  All funds are much needed to help these families!

Needed Items 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 and diapers
  • 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
  • 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 (but not immediately) are items to help these families recover when they find homes.

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

The Crosby family children have lost everything.  They have no toys, no books, nothing.  These children have suffered through devastation, their parent’s are hospitalized, and they have lost their grandfather.  The oldest girl only remembers “seeing a tree coming at me.”  It’s hard to imagine what these children have been through.

It’s not much, but I would like to provide them with some things to keep them entertained while they work through the devastation that has hit them.

  • The 17 year old girl could use hair accessories, makeup, small jewelry items, notebooks, pens, books, and other things teenagers like.
  • The 3 boys, ages 8-11, could use games, toys, books, and other items younger boys like to play with.

I will be sending a computer loaded with a few games and programs needed when school starts back up, but the children will not be able to use it until they are settled into a new home, and no one knows when that will be.  These families will be struggling to get back on their feet, and even though housing is top priority, the families who are taking them in will not be able to provide shelter forever.

I don’t ask my readers to donate often, but there is an urgent need to help the families of Mount Hope and surrounding towns who are living through this devastation.  Please consider donating anything at all if you have the means to do so. You will find the donation button on my blog’s sidebar.

If you can’t help financially but would like to send items you may email me (jshusterman @ charter . net) or leave a comment on this post, and I will reply to you with information on how to do that.  We have people mailing items from all over the country to us, and we will be transporting them or sending them when we can.  The post office in Mount Hope was damaged, and it is hard to get packages into them at the present time.

If you can’t donate please consider re-posting this information along with a ChipIn badge on your own blog or website!

Thank you for reading this, and may you all have a blessed day.

*UPDATE 05/06/11*

Volunteers have arrived in Mt. Hope to help along with tons of supplies to give the families what they immediately need!  (See the comments section)  One of the churches is packed with supplies!

We will still be sending everything we have collected (a big thank you to everyone who has donated supplies and funds), and they will be distributed where they are needed most whether it be Mt. Hope or one of the neighboring towns.

Although immediate needs have been met there is still a need for basic household items, cooking utensils, towels, can openers, plates, etc.  We will do everything we can to help these families.

 

*UPDATE 5/09/11*
I have posted a few photos of some of the items we have collected.  Please follow this link to view them!