Tornado relief efforts underway in Shelby County
By EMILY SPARACINO / Staff Writer
Parts of Shelby County sustained extensive damage and destruction from tornadoes that swept through the area on the afternoon of Thursday, March 25.
Relief efforts have begun locally for residents affected by the storms.
The Shelby County Sheriff’s Office shared updates throughout the day March 25 regarding weather alerts, storm damage and rescue efforts.
“Our priority at the moment is identifying those citizens in need of emergency medical attention,” Sheriff John Samaniego wrote in post. “We will then work with our partnering agencies to provide needed resources to our residents who are displaced. This search and outreach effort will continue throughout the night and into the early morning hours. We will continue to provide updates as they become available.”
Anyone displaced or who sustained tornado damage is urged to call 1-800-RED-CROSS (1-800-733-2767) for assistance.
Oak Mountain High School is serving as a collection and distribution center for basic needs for people in the Oak Mountain community on Friday, March 26 and Saturday, March 27.
“As most of you know – the Oak Mountain community was hit hard by a tornado this afternoon,” read a post on the OMHS Facebook page. “Many families have lost their homes and experienced devastating losses. Our hearts are heavy for them and we are praying for them.”
Items can be dropped off from 8 a.m. to noon on both days at the OMHS cafeteria, located near the back side of the school closest to OMIS.
Those who would like to donate but cannot drop off supplies may donate money instead. Two OMHS staff members will collect donations via Venmo through Saturday at noon and then use the funds to purchase goods and gift cards. Write “Tornado Donation” in the message to @Sandy-Evers or @Bridgit-Watkins.
Those who need items can pick them up from 1-5 p.m. on both days in the OMHS cafeteria.
Items that will be accepted include bottled water, toiletries (shampoo, conditioner, soap, toothpaste, toothbrush, shaving cream, razors, feminine products), blankets (good condition), non-perishable food items (peanut butter or cheese crackers, nuts, granola bars, canned goods, juices, jelly, dried fruit, trail mix, crackers, peanut butter, bread) and gift cards.
“Also, during the distribution portion, people in need can come get the items, or someone can come get them for a person in need,” the post read. “However, with gift cards we will take a more targeted approach. We appreciate your understanding and certainly appreciate your generosity and help for our OM community who is in need.”
Miami Fusion Café, located in Greystone Park on U.S. 280, will begin serving people in the Eagle Point neighborhood on Friday, according to a post on the restaurant’s Facebook page on March 25.
“We are working closely with the HOA to find out needs,” the post read. “We will be delivering hot meals to residents who need them, first responders and workers. We are also a drop-off station for any physical donations and accepting monetary donations to help cover the cost of feeding the people.”
The Church at Brook Hills has set up a disaster response page on its website, Brookhills.org, for those in need of help.
Any Brook Hills members who have immediate needs, including debris clean-up, a place to stay or any other help the church may provide, they can contact the church online or by calling (205) 313-7777.
The church is working to compile a list of those who would like to help with debris clean-up in the coming days. To sign up for the volunteer text message list, go to Eztxt.s3.amazonaws.com/144964/widgets/605d04770545d3.31262933.html.
Brook Hills is not currently taking material or monetary donations, but people may give to the Alabama Baptist Relief Fund or to the BH Family Assistance Fund, which is used to help those in need throughout the year, including those impacted by the tornadoes.
Briarwood Christian School is accepting donations of the following: cases of water, snacks and non-perishable items like nuts, crackers, granola bars, canned goods, peanut butter and trail mix, trash bags, tarps, toiletries, blankets and towels and storage bins for items recovered from the damage.
Donations can be dropped off in the high school gym lobby on the school’s campus on Alabama 119 from 12-6 p.m. Friday, March 26.
“An email will be sent to students and families later today specifying how volunteers can best be mobilized on Saturday by providing families with the goods donated and to provide manual labor when and where necessary,” read a post on the BCS Facebook page on March 26. “If you have specific questions, contact Sara Wilson or Mindy Miller. Thank you in advance for serving.”
Asbury United Methodist Church is serving as a collection and distribution site for basic needs in the community on Friday, March 26 and Saturday, March 27.
The following essential items can be dropped off at the church between 9 a.m. and 1 p.m. on March 26 and March 27: toiletries (shampoo/conditioner, soap, toothpaste, toothbrushes, shaving cream, razors, feminine hygiene products) and non-perishable food items (bottled water, crackers, granola bars, canned goods, nuts, juices, jelly, trail mix and peanut butter).
Anyone who needs items may pick them up from 2-5 p.m. on March 26 and March 27.
In addition, the church needs volunteers to receive donations, sort and help distribute supplies to those in need. Those wanting to help may sign up for a one-hour shift at Signupgenius.com/go/10c0c4eabab23aafbc61-disaster.
Asbury will also accept gift cards and monetary donations that will be distributed to those directly affected by the storms. Drop off a gift card on March 26 or March 27 or make an online gift at Pushpay.com/g/asburyonline.
Clark Holmes Smith Oral Facial Surgery’s Greystone/Inverness office is serving as a collection site for tornado relief items, including toiletries, bottled water, non-perishable and canned food items, diapers, trash bags, cleaning products, toilet paper and paper towels.
Drop-offs can be made at 2206 Cahaba Valley Drive between 8 a.m.-4 p.m. Monday-Friday.
The office will work in conjunction with other agencies to distribute the items where they are most needed in the community and state.
For those interested in helping with cleanup efforts, the city of Helena is inviting willing volunteers and anyone with a chainsaw, heavy equipment and any other supplies to meet at the Helena Sports Complex parking lot for coordination of where to go in the city.
Bill Miller with the city will be putting groups into key areas. He can also be reached at (205) 249-3793.
Helena Cumberland Presbyterian Church will be open on Friday, March 26 and Saturday, March 27 from 8 a.m.-5 p.m. to collect supplies for tornado victims.
The following items will be accepted: tarps, cleaning supplies, debris removal tools, non-perishable food items, garbage bags, unopened underwear and socks, toiletries, feminine products, hygiene products, baby products and adult diapers. Please do not bring clothes.
For more information or to find out specific needs, contact Philicia Broadhead Danner on Facebook.
Mt. Pleasant Baptist Church in Helena is also coordinating relief efforts.
“If you need food, water, cleaning supplies, if you need help moving debris we are here,” Tangee Edwards said. “Any type of help that you need, you can stop by and we will work towards getting you that help. If you want to give help, you can leave your information so we can call you to let you know.”
Volunteers will be at the church until 5:30 p.m. on Friday, March 26, as well as Saturday, March 27, Edwards said.
The church is restocking groceries and has cleaning supplies, sanitation supplies and hot meals.
A community cleanup day will take place in Old Town Helena on Saturday, March 27 starting at 8 a.m.
Residents are invited to bring gloves, tools or other supplies that will help clear debris.
Helena United Methodist Church is partnering with First Baptist Church Helena to provide a meal for those who come and take part in the cleanup.
Monetary donations are needed to cover the cost of food. Donations can be given online (please put MEAL in the note section) or you can put a designated donation in the offering basket on Sunday morning.
Donations of salads, desserts and drinks for the workers can be brought to the FBC Fellowship Hall starting at 10 a.m. Saturday, March 27.
People are needed to serve the food. Anyone interested in helping serve food can come to the FBC Fellowship Hall at 10 a.m. March 27.
Questions should be emailed to Jeff Moore.
The Pelham Recreation Center will serve as a drop-off location for donations to assist with the recovery efforts in the community. The center is open from 7 a.m.-8 p.m. weekdays.
Items needed include tarps, trash bags, cleaning supplies, hygiene products, feminine products, hand sanitizer, face masks, diapers and wipes, socks (multiple sizes), Ensure, pillows and blankets, baby formula, pet food, Gatorade, bottled water and laundry detergent.
The Grande Hall at Old Mill Square in Columbiana will be open on Friday, March 26 for anyone who needs to charge their phone, use the landline or use the restroom to clean up.
Donations of bottled water, bottled or canned drinks and pre-packaged snacks can be brought to the Grande Hall.
Anyone who needs assistance can call (205) 669-5800 (option 9). Those who can help homeowners with cleanup efforts can call the same number.
A group will be assembling sandwiches for residents of the trailer park off Highway 30 in Wilsonville on Friday, March 26.
The following items can be dropped off at Shelby County High School: ham, turkey, cheese, bread, drinks and plates.
The group also will be accepting other food donations for residents.
Those who would like to help may come to the school.
A hotline has been set up in Calera for people to call to voice any needs they have: (205) 668-3803.
Shelby County residents who have been affected by the storms and need assistance may call the Alabama Southern Baptist Disaster Relief Command Post at (334) 261-8620.
Anyone wanting to donate resources for assistance can make a contribution at Sbdr.org. Donations can be designated for Shelby County.
This story will be updated as more information is released.