Local effort under way to help Okla.storm survivors
by Jennifer Cohron
May 22, 2013 | 2051 views | 0 0 comments | 13 13 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Derik Gurganus, Charles Harper and Adam Gurganus load sleeping bags to be taken with other relief items to help victims of tornadoes in Oklahoma. Daily Mountain Eagle - James Phillips
Derik Gurganus, Charles Harper and Adam Gurganus load sleeping bags to be taken with other relief items to help victims of tornadoes in Oklahoma. Daily Mountain Eagle - James Phillips
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A 17-year-old survivor of the April 2011 tornadoes is spearheading one of the local efforts to help Oklahoma residents after Monday’s deadly tornadoes.

Megan Johnson, who graduates this week from Cordova High School, is rallying her community to prepare care packages that will be delivered to Oklahoma next week.

Johnson’s home was among the many in Cordova affected by the tornadoes that hit the city two years ago.

“When you watch it on TV and it hasn’t happened to you, you think, ‘Oh, those poor people.’ But when it has happened to you and you’ve seen your house on the hill with all of your stuff exposed, it hurts so much more because you know exactly what those people are going through,” Johnson said.

Drop-off locations for the Cordova drive are Mojos Pizza, the Cordova Post Office, Jeff and Von’s Place, First National Bank-Cordova branch, Sheri’s One Stop, Ken Glover Pharmacy, the medical clinic and Dollar Generals in Jasper and Oakman.

All items collected by Friday will be transported to Oklahoma with a shipment of other supplies by volunteers with Missions Unlimited, a Jasper-based nonprofit.

The Facebook page for the effort, “Care Package for Moore, Oklahoma,” had more than 600 members by Tuesday afternoon.

“You always want to give back. I’m just glad that we are able to do something,” Johnson said.

Business owners in Jasper are also doing their part for disaster relief.

Retail establishments throughout downtown are serving as collection points for supplies through Saturday, June 1.

Items needed include Target and Walmart gift cards, sunscreen, bug spray, hygiene items, paper products, baby items, over-the-counter medications such as Benadryl and Ibuprofen, first aid supplies, canned food, totes, garbage bags, contractor bags, Gatorade, and snacks. No clothing will be accepted.

Members of the Downtown Business Association met Tuesday morning to organize the supply drive.

Some still have vivid memories of the tornado that tore through Jasper in 1974.

“It wiped out downtown, and everyone thought this is something that downtown merchants could do to help repay what was given to them back then,” spokesperson Don Goetz said.

Other area businesses are supporting a supply drive being organized by Brett Elmore, owner of local radio stations WJBE/WJLX.

Drop off locations are the radio station, Missions Unlimited, Carl Cannon Chevrolet, Scott Crump Toyota, Son’s of Parrish, Yong’s Hair Center and Sumiton Feed.

“After what this community went through in April 2011, not only did we see neighbors helping each other but we met a lot of great folks from all over the country who came here to help us. Now we have a great opportunity to pay it forward,” Elmore said.

Gov. Robert Bentley announed Tuesday that Alabama stands ready to assist Oklahoma as needed in tornado recovery.

Serve Alabama, the Governor’s Office of Faith-Based and Volunteer Service, is encouraging citizens who wish to help to make a financial donation.

Information on various non-profit organizations that help with disaster response can be found at www.servealabama. gov.