NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – Alabama has been approved for a major disaster declaration after Thursday’s tornado. Gov. Kay Ivey said at least six people were killed. Two people were also killed in Georgia from the severe weather.
Tennesseans are helping out the tornado victims to our south in a big way. For the Tennessee Disaster Response Team out of Putnam County, this Selma tornado is their 115th mission in 16 years.
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“The fact that we are from Tennessee, and that we have traveled to Alabama and Oklahoma and all these places we go to, it looks good on the state of Tennessee. And people welcome us with open arms,” said Ken Hall, leader of the disaster relief group, Tennessee Disaster Response Team.
Hall said this devastation is some of the worst his relief group has seen. Volunteers spent the weekend hauling off massive tree limbs. Lives were lost, historic homes destroyed, and roads impassable.
Still, Hall said that the people in Selma have been nothing but grateful for their help. “With the world in turmoil like it seems to be right now, and everybody hates everybody and everybody distrusts everybody, I think if people would just go to a disaster, you’ll see mankind at its best; it’ll restore your faith in human nature.”
Another Tennessee Group, Churches of Christ in Nashville, delivered a truckload of supplies — clothes, brooms, diapers — basic necessities to the victims. Minister Brent Missildine’s congregation at Prattville Church of Christ in Alabama is heading the distribution.
“We just appreciate the work of Churches of Christ Disaster Relief in Nashville,” said Missildine. “We appreciate all the churches that give to this effort so the help is ready immediately when the time comes.”
As in any disaster, the needs change moment by moment. Right now, Missildine said victims need tarps to protect them from the elements more than anything else. “Some of our guys are out right now trying to find tarps. Don’t know that they’ll be able to with all this going on right now.”
The Tennessee Disaster Response Team is looking for volunteers if you are interested in joining this all-volunteer force.
“You just have to be able to take limbs that are cut and throw them in a pile. Or if you can use a chainsaw or anything like that, we need volunteers,” said Hall. “I’ve often said that what we do with physical labor pales in comparison with what we are able to give people in compassion.”
After a handful of days on the ground in Selma, the Tennessee Disaster Response Team plans to return home this week.