Monday, May 02, 2011

BonaResponds Alabama Email update (send Sunday)

Alabama needs your help!

This past week a series of tornadoes swept through the American Southeast.  The storms skilled over 300 people (and many more are still missing), left paths if destruction that are almost unimaginable.

Hardest hit was Alabama with at least 13 confirmed tornadoes and over 200 killed.  The tornadoes left major swaths of destruction that look like out of a doomsday movie.

Here are but a few of the pictures and videos (more are on our blog.

Tuscaloosa (home of the University of Alabama) was perhaps the worst struck community.   Not only were the storms very strong, the tornadoes were wide, stayed on the ground for a long time, and hit a populated area.

Here is a video from helicopter coverage from Alabama's ABC 33/40:

From the New York Times on Sunday May 1, 2011:

“Now we’re getting a handle on exactly what we are facing,” said Mayor Walt Maddox of Tuscaloosa, “the nightmarish truth that this is an utter disaster.” :

I could go on and on.  Maybe I should.  Maybe we need to hear more of the stories.  But for now, I am going to be done. It gets depressing to know that there is so so so much destruction.  But if you want more however on the disaster, I recommend you browse

I ask you to do me a favor howerver.  Stop and imagine your town, your campus, your house literally blown away.   In some cases you may have lost loved ones, in all cases you know your life will never be the same.

Even if you are among the well prepared and have insurance and money set aside for just such events, there is a feeling of helplessness overwhelms you: there is so much to do.  You have no power, maybe no water, and in many cases no where to call home anymore.  The places you go for solace your parks, your churches, and your gyms are wrecked.  Your car is upside down in a ditch two blocks over from where you left it.  Your bank is gone.  City hall is gone.

What do you do?  Where do you start?  How can you do it?  Now imagine the same thing happening to the elderly, the poor, or the handicapped.  How can they do it?

That is why we are going.  We can help.  We can pick up debris, tarp roofs, cut up trees, and much more.  We will bring our tools, we will bring volunteers from a far that will bring new energy to an area that by the time we get there will be tired from weeks of work and stress, and we will bring a reminder that others care.

In a sense, our picking up debris, will be helping to pick up spirits of those who survived the tornadoes.  And that will be our most valuable job.

Won't you help?  We will have a camp in the Tuscaloosa area from May 16th to May 30th (at least).  The exact location is still being worked out, but we will be there.  You can come for a day, a week, or the entire time.

We will have at least one or two vans leaving St.Bonaventure with people and supplies.

The cost of the van from SBU will be $100.  Lodging (bring sleeping bags!) will be free.  Food there will be free.  SO come on down and help.  Not only will you be helping others, you will be helping yourself.  I guarantee you will walk away with a better perspective on life and also many new friends.

All BonaResponds trips are open to all, so come on and help!  (under 18 must be accompanied by a parent).

Sign up here on our google form.

We can get work for people.  From drivers (we will pick people up at the Birmingham Airport), to cooking, to paperwork, to removing damaged trees) you are needed.

Want to help but can't come?  We will need money for supplies, gas, and food.  You can donate online (just be sure to say it is for BonaResponds in the "Other" designation pull down) or can mail a check to BonaResponds Box BY St. Bonaventure NY 14778.

I hope to see many of you in Alabama! :)



PS. Please forward this!

As many of you know, this will not be our first relief trip to Alabama.  We were also there in 2007 in the aftermath of the horrible tornado that hit the Enterprise region (including hitting the high school).  To this day, that trip has helped to shape my thinking on disaster response as much as even Katrina.  Here are some pictures of that trip and a blog article entitled Ant People remains one of my all time favorite BonaResponds' stories.)

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