I’m going off the cuff from my ordinary humorous tone, to ask you all for your help:
As some of you may know, my blog title is a pun from the Arkansas state motto, “The Natural State.” You may or may not be aware that an unofficial F5 tornado rummaged through Central Arkansas last night, and this is the first time in almost 10 years I couldn’t be there to help.
I realize numerous tornadoes and natural disasters upset hundreds and thousands of people every year, this post is in NO WAY to diminish what you all are going through out there; I am merely speaking what I know, and hope you do the same (God forbid) when/if your community is affected. This is my home state. This is where my heart is. I have actually already come across two homes that my friends used to live in (the no longer do) that have been destroyed – homes in which I have stood and celebrated. With all walls down, I’m feeling lost.
If I am feeling this way, I cannot even FATHOM the 1st person view from the videos I’ve seen – the woman screaming and whistling for her dog outside of her destroyed home while tears are rolling down her face; the 17 (and counting) people who have lost their lives and their families; the friends and family of those who still cannot reach people and are desperate for answers, the loss of everything you have and countless years of everything you’ve worked for gone:
Here’s where I’m asking you to pay attention: As bad as the images above are, there are some beautiful, beautiful things happening in this resilient state. My old church has been one of the few volunteer groups allowed into this disaster area:
They made lunches for several hundreds of people in the area – each with a handwritten note of encouragement to the recipient (they are using #SERVErelief on Facebook and Twitter if you’d like to follow them)
These incredible communities are showing ASTOUNDING resilience, hope, and courage.
I’m asking your help – Don’t say you can help, you can:
1. If you pray, pray for these communities, the families, the first responders, the volunteers, the answers, and most of all, divine peace over the matter.
2. If you can donate money, donate money. You can donate to the American Red Cross. (Also, we have already found one scam that raised $10,000 and was fortunately caught before it was collected. PLEASE be educated and careful). Samaritans Purse is another organization that has been highly praised in similar situations.
3. The American Red Cross has gathered some pushback over the years (I cannot speak educationally about the subject and in no way am condemning the organization) – BUT, if you are not comfortable with this, please consider local organizations and local churches. ANY of them will help but here is the church I spoke of earlier.
4. If you are in the area, and able to provide in-kind donations, here are some supplies needed: (from New Life Church) “If you are looking for ways to help with Tornado Relief, we are currently needing supplies: toothpaste, toothbrushes, deodorant, new socks & underwear for kids, men & women, sunscreen, tarps, etc. Drop off at GLR or Conway New Life Church locations NLC.Conway New Life Church.” New Life Church is also host to the Arkansas Dream Center
5. Also if you are in the area, PLEASE, PLEASE consider fostering found pets until their owners can be found! If you are looking for updates on pets you can find them here and here (the latter is the organization that helped me find my dog when she was lost)
6. Donate AND spread awareness with this t-shirt. 100% of profits go to relief efforts. I have loved this company for a LONG time, their t-shirts and great, and they do so much for our community!
7. Stay informed with social media: Here is one Facebook page I have found set up to assist the Mayflower community
8. If you are someone you love has been affected by a tornado, here is a highly rated post of a victim paying in forward: “Dear friends here are few things I wished we had known immediately following the tornado to do. 1: call insurance company. 2: call a restoration/water removal company to come in and remove anything left to clean, itemize & store your belongings. 3: ask your insurance company to find you a temporary place to live ASAP. This is in your policy. 4: take pictures of EVERYTHING LEFT!! Take hundreds before you remove anything. 5: cancel all utilities. 6:go to relief centers & get clothing, food, toys etc. 7: register with FEMA 8: BUY TUBS TO PUT THINGS IN YOU NEED IMMEDIATELY. 9: board up what’s left of your home if the restoration companies can’t get to you immediately. 10: do not be afraid to ask, seek & beg for help!”
Someone also commented that you might get a binder to organize your files, and contact your bank for what you can do to protect your accounts.
I implore you to help in anyway you can. Even if all you can do is pray or send good vibes or words of encouragement – it makes a difference! I would also like to encourage each and every one of you to prepare yourself for these storms. I highly recommend the “Tornado – American Red Cross” app. It includes tips for preparing for a tornado, as well as a warning system that will go off if a tornado warning is issued for your area.
Thank you for tuning in, internet. As always, you’re awesome. Stay that way.