STORM CONCERTS: Pop star Rihanna will appear in a tornado relief concert at the BJCC in Birmingham July 11. She announced the show on Twitter. The concert is to benefit rebuilding in Birmingham and Tuscaloosa, according to a post at birmingham.myfoxal.com. Tickets will be $15 to $49 and go on sale Thursday, June 30, at ticketmaster.com and livenation.com.
The Bama Rising tornado relief concert held in Birmingham June 14 raised about $2 million, according to a report by Mark Harrison of The Times-Journal (Dekalb County). You can make a donation at www.bamarising.org, with proceeds going to a recovery fund managed by the Community Foundation of Greater Birmingham. Buy merch at bamarising.shop.musictoday.com.
FILE THOSE APPS: Tornado victims now have until July 18 to apply for federal grants or low-interest loans, according to a June 25 report by Mike Oliver of The Birmingham News. The Federal Emergency Management Agency offers grants of up to $30,200 for uninsured property damage. The Small Business Administration offers low-interest loans to business people, but also many renters and homeowners.
HE AIN’T HEAVY: Two brothers are working together to coordinate Alabama’s recovery from the April tornadoes, according to a June 27 report by Marty Roney at www.montgomeryadvertiser.com. Jim Byard is director of the Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs, named the lead state recovery agency by Gov. Robert Bentley. Jeff Byard, an administrator with the Alabama Emergency Management Agency, is state coordinating officer for the recovery. Their new task is similar to the one they shared after a tornado hit their hometown of Prattville in 2008, Roney says.
DIVIDE IT UP: A committee of business and community leaders will soon decide which non-profits will get part of the $1.75 million donated to the Tuscaloosa Disaster Relief Fund and a chance to put that money to work in the city’s recovery, according to a June 26 Associated Press report. The committee will review applications and make recommendations to the West Alabama Chamber Foundation, which set up the fund.
SEND ‘EM YOUR SNAPS: Scientists studying the deadly April 27 tornadoes are looking for pictures and video of the storms, according to a June 28 report at www.thechattanoogan.com. “We are interested in getting as much visible data as possible from that day,” according to Dr. Kevin Knupp, professor of atmospheric science at The University of Alabama in Huntsville. The photos and video of the storms will be used to learn more about how they developed and how to improve public warnings, the article states.
MORE THAN ENOUGH: The Pitts family in Tanner has been hit three times by tornadoes over the last 37 years, according to a June 27 AP report. “Twisters have tangled themselves into the family history of the Pitts clan, leaving behind death, destruction and a fear so consuming that a recent storm left one member crying by a bathtub,” the article states. The Pitts’ history with tornadoes began April 3, 1974, when an F-5 tornado struck Limestone County and killed some family members. And on April 27 of this year, 30-year-old Jennifer Pitts Adair of Capshaw lost her home to the storm. Google the article at “Ala. family looking ahead after latest twister.”
MIRACLE BABY: Josh and Tracy Sipes of Pell City celebrated the birth of their daughter, Madison Nicole, in the midst of the April 27 tornado. Tracy told Gary Hanner of www.dailyhome.com that she and her husband had trouble getting to the hospital due to downed trees. Even worse, the power went out in the hospital. “They had to use generators to do my C-section,” Tracy said. According to Hanner, the couple call Madison a “miracle baby.” Tracy tells Hanner that her mother wanted to name the little girl ‘Stormy.” Hanner’s piece, posted June 25, is called “‘Stormy’ makes her debut while waiting for tornadoes.”
HONORS ROLL ON: Here is a partial list of outof-staters who have pitched in to help Alabama storm survivors. Thanks, y’all! A New Jersey woman was so moved by the plight of Alabama tornado victims that she decided to come here, bringing supplies she raised during her own donation drive.
Liz Blaso, 24, a hairdresser at Trenz in Hair in Hamilton, N.J., started the drive at work, according to a report by Jane Meggitt of The News Transcript in Freehold, N.J. Read about Blaso’s adventure in Meggitt’s piece, “Lack of news coverage inspires help for tornado-ravaged Alabama,” at newstranscript.gmnews.com.
More than 20 students from Gill St. Bernard’s School in Gladstone, N.J., came to Alabama recently to participate in storm clean-up. Watch a June 24 report by Linda White of WVTM- TV 13, “Spending summer helping in the recovery of Alabama,” at www2.alabamas13.com/news. “The people just seem so, not angry … it’s just amazing their positive attitude about it,” student Maddie Connell told White.
Shannon White of Mt. Kisco, N.Y., a 1981 Auburn University graduate, had not been to the state since she left Auburn, but she felt the call after the tornadoes. “These storms made me want to connect with people I know,” she told Nancy Mann Jackson at www.secondact.com. Within a few weeks, White traveled to Alabama with her 12-yearold daughter to help with relief efforts.
A school principal in Gettysburg, Pa., helped assemble a truck-load of school supplies for the town of Hackleburg, whose school was severely damaged by the April storms. Donna Kluck and her daughter were scheduled to drive to Hackleburg June 28 to deliver the supplies, according to a report by Jarrad Hedes at www.gettysburgtimes.com.
Bobby Brown of Goose Creek, S.C., has a daughter living in Ider, Ala., which was hit hard by the storms, and he is trying to raise money for the small town. “Your Tuscaloosas and your Birminghams are getting all the attention,” Brown told Greg Hambrick at goosecreek.patch.com. “These little towns are bearing the brunt of the damage.” According to Hambrick, Brown was scheduled to hold a fundraiser at Sapphire’s Sports Bar and Grill June 25.
Pastor Tracy Moore and 21 other members of the Vero Beach (Fla.) Church of Christ were scheduled to travel last week to Tuscaloosa to aid in relief efforts, according to a June 24 report by Tyler Francischine at www.tcpalm.com. Moore (an Alabama native) and his church are also sponsoring an Alabama family of three to live in Vero Beach while they recover from the loss of their house during the April storms.
Eighteen dogs left homeless by the Alabama tornadoes arrived at the Kentucky Humane Society Friday, June 24, according to a report by WDRB/WMYO-TV in Louisville, Ky. Four of the dogs had found homes as of June 26. Twenty more dogs and cats from the tornado were taken to the New Albany- Floyd County Animal Shelter. Watch the story at www.fox41.com.
A group in Gaffney, S.C., is helping pastors and other clergy in Alabama who were affected by the tornadoes. Parson’s Pantry is a ministry that provides financial assistance to needy or retired pastors, according to a June 25 report at www.goupstate.com. Twelve needy families have already been helped, the article states.
Jesse Chambers is a contributing writer for The Birmingham Weekly and B-Metro magazine. Send your comments to firstname.lastname@example.org