In Alabama, authorities confirm that The Poarch Band of Creek Indians donated $180,000 to cover all costs for funeral services and interment for the 23 people killed in Sunday's tornado in Lee County.
The county coroner announced this news on Thursday.
"The coroner's office received word that they wanted to help and reached out to them and they agreed. Their first commitment was for $50,000. Later they called back and ask me what it would take to cover the costs and I gave them a figure and they graciously made it happen," said Lee County Coroner Bill Harris. "The monies will be deposited with the East Alabama Medical Center Foundation to be dispersed to the funeral homes to cover the cost of the funerals. I am so thankful for them to step up in this manner and help the families of this tragedy."
In Alabama, search and rescue teams were still combing through the wreckage of houses flatted by weekend tornadoes this week. On Tuesday, they were looking for seven or eight people still unaccounted for in the wake of the deadliest U.S. tornado outbreak since 2013.
The tiny community of Beauregard, near the Alabama-Georgia border, was beginning to mourn the 23 people confirmed killed by the storms, which included four children and seven people from one family, officials said on Tuesday.
Most of the people who died were found near their homes. The four children were age 6, 8, 9 and 10, said officials.
It looks like that's the community being addressed by today's announcement. Such terrible loss.
About the economic power of the Poarch Band of Creek Indians, from the tribal website:
The Poarch Band of Creek Indians is the only federally recognized Indian Tribe in the state of Alabama, operating as a sovereign nation with its own system of government and bylaws. The Tribe operates a variety of economic enterprises, which employ hundreds of area residents. Poarch Creek Indian Gaming manages three gaming facilities in Alabama, including: Wind Creek Casino & Hotel, Atmore; Wind Creek Casino & Hotel, Wetumpka; and, Wind Creek Casino & Hotel, Montgomery. The Poarch Band of Creek Indians is an active partner in the state of Alabama, contributing to economic, educational, social and cultural projects benefiting both tribal members and residents of these local communities and neighboring towns.
They step up regularly. Here's a previous example of the tribe donating 100,000 for disaster relief, just one month before in the area [PDF Link].
If you or someone you know was affected by the deadly March 3 tornadoes in Lee County, be aware that you are eligible to apply for both Individual and Public disaster assistance funds from the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
These disaster assistance funds are available for homeowners, renters, and business owners in Lee County affected by the recent 2019 storms.
Individuals and business owners can register for assistance online at DisasterAssistance.gov or by calling 800-621-3362.
Those who are deaf, hard of hearing or have difficulty speaking can call TTY 800-462-7585.
IMAGE: Debris lays outside a house devastated after two deadly back-to-back tornadoes, in Beauregard, Alabama, U.S., March 5, 2019. REUTERS