People all over the state have come together to support Selma, Alabama since a tornado tore through the community on January 12. As the recovery efforts continue, United Way of Central Alabama (UWCA) has partnered with United Way of Selma and Dallas County to launch a trusted donation site that will serve those affected. Keep reading to learn how they’re helping and how you can, too.
Many days of recovery ahead
The journey of rescue and recovery is just beginning. The EF-2 tornado caused significant damage with the total amount of destruction still being assessed. Emergency response teams are still on the ground surrounded by crumbling buildings and stranded cars.
Although most of what is raised will target long-term recovery needs, $30,000 was immediately used to help victims with immediate needs such as housing, medical expenses, clothing and food.
UWCA first earned the public’s trust with the short-term and long-term recovery efforts it provided during the 1977 tornado outbreak in North Jefferson County. Years later, the organization lends its expertise to other United Way organizations whose communities are impacted by disasters in order to move recovery efforts forward faster.
Jeff Cothran, the single employee and Executive Director of United Way of Selma and Dallas County, told me how grateful he has been for the work done and money raised by UWCA.
“United Way of Central Alabama has really poured out their heart and soul to Selma. They’ve really taken over fundraising efforts, which frees me up to be out in the community assessing the needs of the people here and working on long-term recovery.”
Immediate + long-term recovery
Considering over 37% of residents in Dallas County fall at or below the poverty level and do not have emergency savings or resources, an already devastating event has been worsened for many.
With the assistance of Dallas County Family Resource Center and money raised by UWCA, help for hotel stays, clothing, medical care and food are reaching those in need. Funds are also benefiting initiatives helping with long-term recovery. Some include:
- Getting United Way of Selma’s Doc On The Spot free clinic back up and running
- Reinstating the Dallas County VOAD (Voluntary Organizations Active in Disasters) to provide resources, support and hope
- Helping those needing temporary housing
- Working with various entities in the community to assess needs
“Everybody is really just grasping for information. In any crisis like this, the best way to alleviate fear and create calmness in the community is to make sure everybody affected knows someone’s paying attention to them. That’s what we’ve been trying to do, basically just say ‘We see you, we’re working towards getting to you and helping you get what you need.'”Jeff Cothran, Executive Director, United Way of Selma and Dallas County
To help tornado relief in Selma, donate here or text SELMA to 62644.
Over $200,000 raised so far
Cothran has been instrumental in establishing a recovery committee to develop and implement plans for rebuilding. Recovery in any disaster is unique, but Selma’s will require well-funded plans that will last months or years.
Here’s a look at just one of the ways organizations like United Way and The Resource Center are helping:
A single mother of three could not stay in her home after the tornado took down a tree that destroyed the roof of her home. Her church paid for her family to stay in a hotel for a few nights until that contribution ran out and The Resource Center arranged for housing for another few weeks as she works to get things figured out.
“The outpouring of the entire state has taken my value of our community and amplified it a hundredfold. To be able to have a network to call upon in a time like this, you can’t put a value on it. It’s just been wonderful and really, truly helped us a lot.”Jeff Cothran, Executive Director, United Way of Selma and Dallas County
Want to be a part of Selma’s road to recovery? Donate here or text SELMA to 62644.