The first warning sirens sounded at 4 a.m., and finally at around 7 p.m. they sounded no more. Town after town suffered the destruction of not one tornado, but two and three tornadoes.
The first tornado to hit Alabama left Mississippi and hit the town of Hackleburg as an EF5-rating tornado. The town of 1,400 lost 35 lives — 90 percent of the town was obliterated, including 500 homes, all three schools and the Wrangler jeans plant. It is estimated that Hackleburg will not have power for at least a month.
The tornado then pushed through Phil Campbell, a town of 1,100, claiming 29 lives and leveling 100 homes. That single tornado traveled northeast 132 miles, ripping through town after town before crossing into Tennessee.
Huntsville, Tuscaloosa and Birmingham were each hit by EF4 tornadoes. Fatalities have been reported in 19 counties for a total of 251 confirmed deaths. Many people are still missing and unaccounted for.
We recommend going to either waff.com or whnt.com to see the vastness of the devastation in Alabama for yourself.
International Aid is accepting donations to help victims of the tornadoes.
Town after town is obliterated. Thousands of families are now homeless. Thousands more have suffered extreme damage to their homes. Businesses, churches, schools, stores and restaurants are now nothing but rubble. Unemployment was high before; now thousands more are unemployed because their place of employment has been wiped out.
The need is great and the people of Alabama have responded in an amazing way. However, it is not going to take a village, it is going to take a nation to meet the needs of so many hurting people.
International Aid will have a truck leaving for Alabama this weekend. Please donate. So much is needed: tarps, work gloves/boots, trash bags (think clean-up), diapers, baby food and formula, bottles and sippy cups, toys (think children), personal hygiene items, hammers, nails, power tools, storage containers for personal belongings, manual can openers, water, Gatorade, laundry detergent, towels and washcloths, Band-Aids, Tylenol, paper towels, and toilet paper.
Monetary donations can be made at internationalaid.org.
International Aid has made a commitment to get donations to the storm victims for as long as donations come in. Help is needed today and will continue to be needed. International Aid will continue to monitor the situation and notify the public as the need changes.
Pray this is just the first truckload of supplies International Aid sends to the victims. And please pray for the victims.
— Kirk and Chari Kooiman
Florence, Ala. (formerly of Spring Lake/Grand Haven)