Deadly Tornado Outbreak Hits the South

March 5, 2019
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Update – March 20, 2019

The local Emergency Management in Lee County, Alabama, was able to secure a 80,000 square foot Warehouse for us to lead and operate. Ray Elsberry, Gulf States ACS Director, is leading in this Effort and is being assisted by Lillie Buckingham and Barbara Barnes, South Central ACS DR Directors. They are working hard to open this facility which will run seven days a week. Forklifts and vital equipment were obtained over the weekend. Other supplies are being delivered and a team is being formed presently. It appears that the doors will be open to receive donations in one or two days. We have created a Needs List for those who would like to assist by donating supplies through Amazon, for the Warehouse.

In addition to Alabama, Georgia was struck by a series of Tornadoes on the same day. Our Georgia-Cumberland ACS DR Team led by Rhonda Haight and John Vauldurzen was managing a Warehouse in Talbotton. Since the damage in Georgia was less severe than Alabama, we had to close operations after a week.

Update – March 11, 2019

Needs List

It has now been over a week since the series of tornadoes struck the states of Alabama, Georgia, Florida, and Michigan. The local conferences continue to be engaged in the Recovery Efforts. Our DR Team from the Georgia-Cumberland Conference, led by Rhonda Haight, is presently operating a Multi-Agency Warehouse in Georgia. In Michigan, the local NGOs have set up Distribution sites to serve the community. We have been in communication with the South Atlantic and Gulf States conferences, discussing efforts focusing on creating a flow of goods that can be distributed to those affected. A church in each of the two conferences has been found viable to serve as a Distribution site or housing for volunteers.

We are also serving in Lee County, Alabama, by providing assistance in the Warehouse that is being run by United Cajun Navy, a local NGO. We informed them of our willingness to work within the structure they desired and of the resources at our disposal like workers, facilities, and knowledge. They were extremely appreciative and requested if we would assess the functionality of the Warehouse. ACS Directors Ray Elsberry of Gulf States and Derrick Lane of South Central were identified as the contact people for these efforts.

Each of these efforts is being managed by local ACS DR teams. The NAD offers support and stays in communication as much as possible. Sometimes we are able to work onsite directly with our teams and other times we contact them via phone calls. In either case, our intent is to encourage their tremendous efforts. This fact was highlighted by South Central holding a new pilot class at Oakwood University in Collections and Emergency Distribution Sites, led by Lillie Buckingham and Barbara Barnes. Derrick Lea, NAD ACS DR Director, joined them to co-teach this new course to over 200 people from four different conferences (Kentucky Tennessee, Georgia Cumberland, Southeastern, and South Central). The session ended with a gala on Sabbath evening where Derrick expressed his gratitude and deep appreciation for the effective work of our local ACS DR teams in serving their community.

A tornado that touched down in Alabama this past Sunday, March 3, has been declared as the deadliest one in the State since 2013. Georgia, the Panhandle area in Florida, and parts of South Carolina were also affected by this violent storm. At least 23 deaths have been reported in Lee County, Alabama.

We have reached out to our local Conferences, South Central and Gulf States, to discuss ways on how we can collaborate to serve the needs of the survivors. The North American Division stands at the ready to help as appropriate and both Conferences have indicated a willingness to work together for the good of the community. The South Central and Gulf States conferences currently have their Disaster Response Teams on the ground conducting field assessments to ascertain how much damage has taken place. Based on these initial reports, we will determine how ACS DR can be of assistance.