In response to my e-mail early this morning, we now know of several Samford employees and students who lost their homes, sustained damage to their homes, or had injured relatives in yesterday's storm. I have received numerous messages from faculty, staff and students informing me of nine students who had homes damaged or destroyed and twelve employees or their immediate families who had substantial home damage or injury. Tragically, we also were informed about one of our young alums, Carrie Grier Lowe, R.N. '06, who lost her life in the tornado. It will not be a surprise if we hear of more damage or injury as the next few days unfold.
Several of us have spent much of today discussing things we can do to help. Underlying our discussions has been the principle that Dr. Westmoreland has articulated in his messages to you earlier: we don't need to 'leap to action' right away, but need to wait at least a couple of days for the real professionals to do their job in assessing the damage and organizing recovery and relief efforts. If we don't do this we could actually hinder, rather than help, the efforts.
Right now, we have a few specific suggestions for you:
Pray. Pray for the victims, the affected families, the relief workers, local law enforcement, civic leaders, and those who are meeting the physical and emotional needs of the victims in local health care facilities, churches and counseling centers. Tomorrow from noon to one p.m. both Hodges Chapel and Reid Chapel will be open for prayer for all of these.
Give. We have established both an Employee Emergency Assistance Fund and a Student Emergency Assistance Fund that can be used to support Samford people and their families as they have financial needs brought about by this disaster. You can send a check to Samford designating one of these funds in the memo line, or you can give on-line by going to one of these links:
Serve. Renie Moss, our Assistant Dean for Campus Life, is working with several local charities right now to organize ways that Samford students and employees will be able to get their hands dirty and help in just a few days. She will begin announcing these efforts via e-mail later today, and you will likely hear from her often. You can also look on Samford's home page right now and see a list of agencies that can use your help or donated goods. This list will be updated frequently.
I will be updating you regularly as we see opportunities for Samford to give back to the people of our community who need us more than ever. Keep serving.
Special notice from UAB:
There is an emergency blood drive on the 2nd floor of UAB hospital, in the atrium. It started at noon today (Thursday) and it is for the level I trauma unit here at UAB.
From Samford faculty member Nancy Whitt:
The mayor says that the people in the downtown shelter need clothes and water. If anyone would like me to take clothes and/or water to GBM to be distributed, I'll clean out my CRV and you can bring items tomorrow for me to take.
From Samford faculty member Abi Williams:
I wanted to get the word out that my office (Brooks Hall 107) will serve as a drop-off location for the tornado relief effort being coordinated by BirminghamMommy.com and MOMS Market. They are collecting basic items for families devastated by yesterday's storms and will be distributing everything collected directly to the families. Right now they are collecting toiletries, diapers, clothes, shoes, wipes, blankets, formula, bottles, and other basic items for families with small children. As the effort continues, they will construct a specific needs list for individual families which I will post outside my office door. The drop-off box is being delivered at 9:45 this morning and will remain outside my office until further notice.
From Birmingham Baptist Association:
VOLUNTEERS ARE NEEDED for Disaster Relief Response to the recent devastating storms in Alabama. If you are interested please call BBA – Birmingham Baptist Association at 599-3245.
EMERGENCY NEED for blood donations. LifeSouth Blood Mobile will be at Dawson Baptist Church this Sunday, May 1. Please consider making a donation.
From faculty member Michelle Joiner:
If anyone is specifically interested in helping families of children with special healthcare needs (CSHCN) who have been impacted by the recent tornadoes, Family Voices of AL is accepting donations which we will turn around to direct assistance to families. You can check our Donate page on the FV website, www.familyvoicesal.org for more information.