Editorial: Heartbroken but helping around us
This weekend’s tornadoes were the most deadly set of storms our area has ever seen, but they aren’t the first set of storms that has hurt our community.
In 2014, 15 tornados touched down in central Alabama. Three deaths were reported. Crawford, Salem and Smiths Station were torn apart by an EF-3 tornado on April 29.
What we saw then is what we’re seeing today: people helping neighbors and strangers alike. In 2014, Crawford Baptist Church was set up as a donation location and center for volunteers and emergency personnel. Today, since the most damage was in Beauregard, that center is Providence Baptist Church in Opelika.
The surrounding areas are showing Smiths Station and Beauregard that they are not on their own. Organizations, churches, businesses and individuals have jumped in to help in any way possible. Monday, when volunteers had to be turned away in some places because emergency personnel were still conducting search and rescue operations, people did whatever else they could. At that moment, it meant collecting and donating water, food, supplies and anything else for people who will need it.
There were many food establishments posting on Facebook that they were offering free meals to emergency personnel and volunteers. Why? Because when tragedy strikes, the people in the South feed you. It’s one less thing to worry about while you’re getting an important job done.
As of The Citizen’s deadline, there were 23 confirmed fatalities in Lee County and missing persons were under 10. Prayerfully, the missing persons number is no more as this paper is published and people are found alive and well.
Lee County Sheriff Jay Jones, Smiths Station Mayor F.L. “Bubba” Copleand and Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey all shared the same sentiments the day following the storms: we’re heartbroken and hurting, but this will not knock us down.
We’re praying for those who lost loved ones. We’re praying for those who lost homes. We will continue to work to connect people with resources in the coming days because sometimes following a tragedy, you don’t know what you need just yet—but you will soon.
By Denise DuBois, Executive Editor