Sunday, May 15, 2011

Tornado-Ravaged South Still Aching And Needs Help

The news moves quickly and is seems as if there is new natural or manmade disaster every few weeks. The floods snaking down the Mississippi are a slow, frightening look into the pain that Americans are suffering as their homes and livelihoods are washed away (more on this in coming days).

But only a few weeks ago, states from Arkansans, Tennessee and Louisiana all the way to Georgia, with particular devastation along the way in Alabama, tornadoes claimed more than 300 lives and left mayhem and destruction in its tracks.

Folks in those states still need some help, and people have stepped up. Prompted and pushed by Hank Williams Jr. CMT took the initiative 90-minute live concert and telethon from The Grande Ole Opry House for victims of the tonadoes, storms and floods.

"When this happened, we were kind of driven out of our home up in northwest Tennessee," Williams told CMT Insider. "We had tornadoes and flooding and no power for several days. ... Then I start seeing the news on television and the Weather Channel and, then all of a sudden, how many deaths? I couldn't believe it. Tuscaloosa, Cullman, where I used to live, Birmingham. And then it would double. Then it was 120. Then I talked to Robin Meade at CNN. Then it was 170. I said, 'This can't be right. I didn't see that right, did I? In that short of time, can it be right?'"

He decided to visit some of the tornado-ravaged areas.

"I went down there and saw it in person and what it did to Tuscaloosa," he said. "There's no way to describe. My buddies told me, 'When you get here and see it, you'll wonder how it didn't kill thousands. I've never seen anything like it in my lifetime. We've never had anything in Nashville like this or in Tennessee like this. We're talking about the biggest natural disaster in the history of the state of Alabama -- 5,700 homes, just Tuscaloosa. Thirty people are still missing, and it all adds up. I said, 'I gotta do something.'"

Ashton Shepherd, Big Kenny, Clay Walker, Clint Black, Crystal Bowersox, Danny Gokey, Darryl Worley, David Nail, Hilary and Holly Williams, Kellie Pickler, Montgomery Gentry, Phil Vassar, model Niki Taylor and Olympic gold medalist figure skater Scott Hamilton all volunteered to work the phones to accept donations for the American Red Cross.

Alabama, Alan Jackson, Gretchen Wilson, Keith Urban, Lady Antebellum, Little Big Town, Ronnie Dunn, Sara Evans, the Blind Boys of Alabama, Tim McGraw and Trace Adkins all ponied up their time and talent for thee cause.

There is more here on stepping up for the cause by performers.

Alabama coaches hosted a radiothon. 

NEWLY ADDED: A bike ride to benefit tornado victims is being organized in Apison, Tenn.

The Mother of All Charity Lists for Alabama has been compiled by Alabama Possible.

Another good list that includes charities from several states slammed by tornadoes this spring.

(NOTE: This item was originally meant to be posted before the CMT program, but glitches with Google Blogger zapped that idea).

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