|Category:||Caring for Communities|
|Tags:||Alabama, American Red Cross, community, employees, Logistics Action Team, tornado, UPSers, volunteerism, weather|
During the days and nights from April 25-28, 244 tornadoes ravaged the southeastern United States. This outbreak became the largest in U.S. history, beating the 170 record set in May 2004. In particular, on April 27 a massive tornado struck the Alabama town of Tuscaloosa.
UPS VP of Transportation Al Bedran and his family watched the devastation unfold on TV. They were among the thousands whose hearts were so touched, they were compelled to lend a hand to those most affected. Al, his wife Wendy and her mother Linda Waldrep headed to Cullman, Ala., a town about 100 miles northeast of Tuscaloosa, and volunteered their services to the ARC.
I was overwhelmed by not only the massive destruction, but also by the massive effort it took to organize the disaster relief. The ARC staff and volunteers were some of the most caring, positive thinking individuals I have ever worked with. The logistics of such an operation was orchestrated so well especially since the staff and volunteers came from all across the nation and have never worked together.
We started our day by helping to unload an ARC truck full of supplies and then handing out those supplies to the residences that came to the center in need. Then we drove an emergency relief vehicle (ERV) and delivery truck and set out into the community.
We met Rebecca. She was elderly and had fallen just after the tornadoes hit. She fell on concrete and had obvious rib fractures. Rebecca had been to the Cullman ARC field headquarters and been attended to by Rosemary, a registered nurse. Rosemary and the staff encouraged Rebecca to go to the hospital but she refused, stating that they could not afford it.
I spotted Rebecca walking gingerly toward the ERV. I asked her if she was OK. She told me that she thinks she has broken ribs and she was in a lot of pain. I told her to go to the hospital, but again she refused.
My mother and I knelt down by her side and told her it’s time to go. She agreed. We helped her into their truck. The look of relief on her family and neighbors face was one I will never forget as we watched her husband drive her to the emergency room.
This experience is one I will never forget. There is a lot of work still to be done. I will be there helping this time and in the future. Thank you American Red Cross for all you do to help us help those in need.
The ARC is currently providing shelter, food, and emotional support to tornado victims in 12 states. In all, damages are estimated to be between $2 and $5 billion. The National Weather Service has reported 340 fatalities were caused by the tornado outbreak.