Alabama tornadoes: How you can help

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25 Responses to “Alabama tornadoes: How you can help”

  1. Cook!EMonstA says:

    I spent a week in Birmingham just last year. There was not a day when someone didn’t explain to me that “We just love Jesus so much here.” I’ve never experienced that anywhere else.

  2. Cigarsam says:

    Thank you very much for this from Huntsville, Alabama.

  3. Mike K says:

    The tornadoes hit not only Alabama, but also Tennessee and my home state of Georgia. While I was unaffected, many in my county and neighboring counties suffered the brunt of these storms. Donate as much as you can to help, regardless of how the majority voted. Sad that I even have to make that last statement.

  4. Anonymous says:

    Margue – thank you *so* much for posting this. I am a native Alabamian who has lived in San Francisco for the past 12 years and I am in final preparations to move at the end of the month with my partner of 11 years to Arkansas, where he grew up. It’s been tough and amazing watching the coverage and aftermath of the disaster in my home state.

    There are a myriad of reasons why we’re leaving “paradise” as so many people here think of the Bay Area but Brian’s essay is one of the prime reasons. I’ve had to explain so so many times that the South is progressive, smart, hard working, all those things people think it’s not. The sense of community, of living in a shared world where we have each other is simply not present in San Francisco, at least by our perspective.

    -Eric in SF

  5. IronEdithKidd says:

    Here’s a good-sized link dump for places to donate goods, cash, etc.

  6. Anonymous says:

    Hi–Brian Oliu here. Thank you for the repost and the kind comments. All thoughts & help is greatly appreciated.

  7. Sekino says:

    I see. Thanks for all the responses! It all makes more sense to me now, even though I still think it’s sad that they can’t get the best kind of protection :(

  8. ki4btj says:

    First off, thanks to Boing Boing for posting this. I know a lot of people think that Alabama is populated with a lot of trailer-riding rednecks, but this is not the case.

    Second, I had to sit through the storm and following power outage. Hunting for gas and food, scavenging power to keep my cell phone charged, and cycling around to different homes to help was hard. It was rough, but I had to think of it like involuntary camping trip. We did have water, after all.

    However, my situation pales in comparison to some of the people that I know. A couple of my friends’ parents lost their homes. One of my relatives, who lived not 2 miles away from my parents, lost EVERYTHING. He lost his home, business, vehicles, and more. The only things he has is his life and the clothes on his back. Of course he was lucky compared to others.

    I’ve been reading some of the comments on this post, and I would like to say that some of the areas hit have been areas that would normally vote Democrat. Just because the majority of the state tends to vote Republican doesn’t mean that Alabamians don’t want or need federal help. Who knows, depending on how the government handles this disaster it might get some people to change their minds.

    As I write this there are still plenty of people without power. I talked to one of my co-workers this morning who lived only a couple of streets away, and he was still powerless. There are plenty of people still picking up the broken pieces of their lives. Whether you agree with their personal politics or not, these people still need help.

    Sorry for the long, rambling post. I felt like I had to say something.

  9. Anonymous says:

    Thank you for your article. It’s really bad here. We just got our electricity back running two hours ago. It’s unreal.

    We’re finding personal items from over 110 miles away sitting in our yard. We’re well aware that in order for those items to be in my yard it means it came from houses that were destroyed.

  10. highlyverbal says:

    First of all, save all your bleeding heart charity. Alabama is a state that doesn’t want hand-outs. Setting up donations demeans both them and us.

    Here’s how you can best help your friends and neighbors living in Alabama:

    Encourage them to stop voting for politicians who a) aren’t concerned about the climate and b) want to eviscerate the social safety net.

    Until then….

    “They know how to come together. … They know how to rebuild.”

    Good luck, Alabama, you’ll be getting a lot more practice.

    • jonw says:

      Alabamans are too independent to accept private donations, but they need a government safety net? This is the same logic that brought us “keep the guvermint out of my medicare.”

    • spocko says:

      Interesting comment. How about the way people vote for politicians who believe that other states and the federal government has no business sending federal aid? If, during the non-disasters they are constantly saying, “Shrink government! Cut Taxes!” after the disaster is it fair to go to them and say. “Okay, we are not going to give you anything since you said you didn’t want government and you didn’t want to pay taxes.”

      What happens is that during this time they suddenly become quiet. Their is nobody in power who says, “You weren’t there to contribute for others, so we aren’t going to be there for you.”

      The selfish policies of these people are not used to punish them, because the people who believe in the need for taxes and government aren’t as cruel as the “Cut Taxes, shrink government” people.

      Yet these people should be interviewed by the media and asked, “Are you going to change your mind about the need for taxes now and the need for Government? Or are you going to admit your views are cruel and sick? Will you turn down aid and demand that everyone who talks like you do the same? In the future will you start changing your tune? If not, why not?”

    • petertrepan says:

      Ahem. I have lived in Alabama all my life. I’m white and male and voted for Obama. I am, in fact, disappointed he’s not as liberal as I thought he would be. I trust climate scientists more than I trust Glenn Beck. Please stop prejudging every person born in Alabama. The cumulative effect is causing the progressive element in my state to give up and/or move.

    • sam1148 says:

      It’s just they have made their wishes known with respect to this _specific_ course of action. Hand-outs bad, weaken the recipient.

      And just who is the ‘they’ you refer to? The voters, officials..the individuals (often in blue voting areas in Alabama hardest hit by the storms)

      Should I label all of California as homophobic for majority decision of Prop 8 who made their ‘wishes known’ to prevent same sex marriage?

      Your comments smack of “Fallwellism” saying ‘they deserved it and should suffer”.

  11. Sekino says:

    Thank you for these links!

    Something has been puzzling me for a long time. I keep hearing that most houses- especially mobile homes- in tornado alley don’t have basements/cellars. Considering that the safest place during a tornado is underground (and that being in a closet won’t do much if your entire home gets tossed into pieces), why aren’t there more underground shelters by now? My area doesn’t get many tornadoes; but we do get them sometimes (more often recently) and the official emergency procedure is short and simple: “get to the basement!”

    Seems odd to me that people in earthquake areas get building codes to reduce casualties but not the people living with the regular threat of tornadoes. Of course, tornadoes strike fast and it wouldn’t save everyone, but it would be nice for them to have a more sensible place to hide in during a T-alert instead of sitting in plywood closets and hope like heck that serendipity alone works in their favour.

    Perhaps I am missing some important details, but it’s been bugging me…

    • I’ll add one thing to what other people have said here: Frostlines.

      In Kansas, which gets a lot of tornadoes and where most houses have basements, it is also gets colder in winter. You have to dig down several feet into the earth to set foundations for buildings, where they won’t be shifted around by freeze-thaw every year. By the time you’re that far down, digging out a basement isn’t much of an added expense.

      In Alabama, the frostline is two inches. I know this because we replaced the plumbing on our house to the street while we lived in Birmingham, and it was seriously like we just scrapped out a little trench and then kicked some dirt over it. I’ve moved more dirt planting a sapling in Minnesota. In Alabama, the cost of a basement can’t be rolled into the cost of the foundation. It’s an entire separate expense. And a big one.

    • petertrepan says:

      I live in the area, and every basement I’ve ever been in here is above ground on at least one side. Alabama is second only to Louisiana in annual rainfall, so it might be required by code (just a guess!) that basements only be built on terrain where one side can be above grade, in order to prevent flooding.

  12. Anonymous says:

    There are bits of insulation and window curtains in the yard. The nearest tornado passed 5 miles from here. We got power back yesterday.

  13. Anonymous says:

    One more thing that you can do to help – especially if you’re not located close to the disaster: become a digital volunteer.

    Many people help out during disaster response and recovery by sorting through and identifying critical data from social media and turning it into useful, actionable data for first responders, emergency operation centers, NGO’s etc…

    Here’s one such request for help from Heather Blanchard (@poplifegirl) of Crisis Commons via twitter:

    @poplifegirl: “Volunteer to help Alabama EOC sort Twitter data and Map http://bit.ly/iobtzD Sign up today! Need sorters, mappers and project mgrs!

    For more info, please see the Crisis Commons “April Tornados” Wiki:

    http://wiki.crisiscommons.org/wiki/April_Tornados

    Best Regards,

    Scott Reuter
    Digital Volunteer
    @sct_r

  14. empirechick says:

    @Sekino – I don’t know if it’s true of Alabama, but in many places in the south, the water table is very close to the surface (2-10 feet deep), so there isn’t enough earth to dig a basement.

  15. Anonymous says:

    Found this. It’s an official storm report along with photos or the storm tracks.
    http://blogs.agu.org/wildwildscience/2011/05/02/the-most-amazing-storm-survey-ive-ever-read/

  16. Anonymous says:

    Anon #1 here again!

    Sekino – 19th century farmhouses frequently had a tornado shelter – remember the scene from the start of the Wizard of OZ? I suspect that modern homes don’t have them simply because of the expense. Building a house today with a basement can double the cost of the home in many places. Blasting is not unheard of in many areas if you want to install a basement.

    Why are the codes not requiring it? Well, I know Alabamians in general are some of the most independent (from government) people you will find. Being told what to do with their property by the government is highly unpopular. Only when an entire community agrees that a new bit of housing code or zoning law is good for everyone do those things get done. Maybe things will change after this disaster, who knows.

    Finally, most tornadoes are F0 or F1, not the F5 monsters that hit everywhere. A home will be damaged/destroyed by an F0/1 but the survival rate for hunkering down in a windowless interior room is much much higher than when an F5 hits.

    Mobile home parks are a whole different story. They are frequently the only affordable housing in a region and by their very nature are impossible to harden against high winds.

    Hope this helps.

  17. highlyverbal says:

    Please save the tribalism; it’s not a red state/blue state kind of thing.

    It’s just they have made their wishes known with respect to this _specific_ course of action. Hand-outs bad, weaken the recipient.

    Above all, do no harm, so can’t have my hand-outs going to those who abhor them. I know they wouldn’t even want to live in a community where others were saved by hand-outs. I respect their desires.

    I also don’t resuscitate those who have filed requests to not be resuscitated.

    • petertrepan says:

      Please save the tribalism; it’s not a red state/blue state kind of thing.

      How virtuous. You’d never stoop to tribalism, would you? I mean, except for in the rest of your post, where you tell me about the inferior politics of every person in a certain location. (Not your location, because the politics of your location are subtle and diverse.)

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