2011 May 4 Wednesday
Following our first flight to Tuscaloosa and distribution of supplies to people in Holt and vicinity, we learned of many outlying rural areas that had not yet received sufficient supplies or assistance, and in which there were both babies and elderly people in need. These areas included Samantha, Brookwood, Friday Circle, Sawyerville, Coaling, Epes, and others. Because of the urgency, we organized a second flight as soon as possible. And thanks to the generosity of compassionate individuals in the Gulf area and of Flightline First at Lakefront Airport, we were again able to act fast by purchasing many of the specifically requested supplies.
Once again, we filled the plane to maximum capacity; in addition, a large quantity of baby supplies were shipped directly from Lafayette, Louisiana by the generous makers of Fuzzi-Buns diapers. On this trip we were met by Tuscaloosa locals from the Daystar Family Church, who have set up a very large distribution center for supplies and for volunteers, who are welcomed to stay at church facilities overnight while they work in the rural areas during the days. They drove me into some of these areas to speak with people and witness firsthand what the tornados had done and the work going on and still needed there. These photos from today are not for the faint of heart. We saw where neighborhoods and shopping malls were leveled, where adults and children and babies never made it out alive. We saw cars and trucks that had been thrown for hundreds of yards, flipped over like pancakes. Power lines were still down everywhere. In towns like Alberta City, there seemed to be plenty of cleanup work done and being done, and there were lots of National Guard and other professional crews around. As we walked by some destroyed structures, we could smell the stench of rotting flesh. That was the most disturbing reminder of what this tornado really destroyed, far more significant than the structures and the cars and the trees.
A few photos are shown below, and many more are shown in the gallery at the end of this article. (As always, click on any photo to see an enlarged, higher-resolution version of it.) Also, just prior to the final photo gallery, we list the supplies delivered and total costs for this second flight. Donations are coming in steadily now to Flightline First at Lakefront Airport; we will be coordinating shipments from there by truck beginning this weekend and continuing next week.
Thanks go again to Gerald and Vickey Maples for providing funds to purchase the supplies, which for this flight included many tools as well as temporary shelters; and to Flightline First of Lakefront Airport in New Orleans for providing discounted fuel when purchased there, and for offering to match at 50% all monetary donations that come in for fuel costs. Please consider that temporary opportunity to increase the effectiveness of any contribution you might want to make to these efforts!
Here is a list of the supplies flown to Tuscaloosa this time:
Shelters and related:
Large stand-alone shade umbrellas (9); Ponchos - adult and one-size (6).
D batteries - 12 4-packs.
Rope - 2 100-ft lengths of 5/16-inch polypro.
Crow bars- 36 in (2).
Leather work gloves - 11 pair.
Children & Hygiene:
Two cases of baby food; baby powder; anti-bacterial aloe-vera body and hand cleaners; sunscreen (3 large tubes).
Several large cases of reusable diapers (thanks to the makers of Fuzzi-Buns!) and other baby supplies, more of which will be shipped by truck in the coming week.
Lots of foodstuffs again: Canned meats and dinners (herring, ham, etc.); packaged dry dinners, soups, noodles, trail mix, mixed nuts. Cereals. Breads and rolls. Peanut butter. Rice (20 lb bag, whole). Dog food/kibble: 9 10-lb bags. Cat food/kibble: 4 10-lb bags.
Toilet paper (6 packages of 4 rolls); Heavy-duty trashbags (100 30-gal, 32 39-gal, 50 13-gal).
1-gal zip-loc freezer bags (3 boxes of 35 each). Paper and waterproof foam plates. Plastic tupperware - assorted sizes.
Socks -- adult, teen, and children (boys and girls).
Cotton terry washcloths -- 90 (6 packs of 15 each).
8 spiral memo books and large pack of pencils.
Total costs for purchased supplies: $505.09 (paid for by F. Gerald Maples)
Total aircraft costs (4.5 flight hours)
Fuel 46.7 gal @ $6/gal = $280.20
Other aircraft expense (@ $90/flight hour): $405
GRAND TOTAL costs for Flight #2: $1190.29
Here are two photo galleries. The first shows more of the devastation we found around Tuscaloosa, including Alberta City. The second shows the distribution center at Daystar Family Church in Tuscaloosa.