NAACP & Red Cross Disaster Teams Assist Tornado Victims in Alabama and Georgia

March 2, 2007

The months old alliance between the NAACP and the American Red Cross proves to be immeasurable as both entities work to assist those victimized by tornados in Alabama and Georgia in the last 24 hours.

NAACP officials are in the storm stricken communities across several counties directing resources and relief services to areas that typically are among the last to receive disaster assistance. NAACP and Red Cross disaster relief teams are engaged in bulk distribution of items that address the immediate needs of those impacted including food, flashlights, clothing and water. Teams are working out of the Baptist Hill section of Enterprise, Ala., a predominantly black section of the town. A command center has been set up at the Pleasant Shade Baptist Church.

Damage and assistance assessments have also been conducted in Americus and Newton, Ga. where similar services are being offered. NAACP teams are also identifying those who need access to shelter as well as senior citizens and the disabled who may need additional aid due to their condition.

The Coffee County, Eufaula/Barbour, Dothan, Wiregrass and Geneva County NAACP branches in Alabama are involved in the emergency activities.

NAACP Alabama State Conference President Ed Vaughan said the tornados left nearly 500 homeless and flattened 200-300 homes in a 5 to 8-mile area of Enterprise. Housing, security, roof coverings, refrigeration and portable heaters are among the area's immediate needs, Vaughan added.

"It looks like Katrina without the water," Vaughan said. "The area of greatest need is in this black community [Baptist Hill]. It just leveled the houses. Telephones poles are snapped. Trees have fallen and there is no power. People will be sleeping under the stars because they don't want to leave their possessions. There is very little police presence. It was a very difficult day but our Red Cross training was very valuable and everyone was peaceful."

Following the onslaught of Hurricane Katrina, the NAACP and Red Cross partnered to make sure future emergency response and disaster relief would not be slow in coming to black and poor communities, as was experienced during the Gulf Coast storms a year and a half ago. Since then more than 1,200 NAACP members have been trained in disaster relief, mass care and shelter operations.

"This partnership is critically important to America," said Smyther Fallen, of the American Red Cross's community relations team. "When these two powerful organizations come together, God's will is being done. The NAACP always stands for civil rights. But in this case, they are giving access to economic wherewithal to improve people's quality of life when they need it most."

Founded in 1909, the NAACP is the nation's oldest and largest civil rights organization. Its members throughout the United States and the world are the premier advocates for civil rights in their communities, conducting voter mobilization and monitoring equal opportunity in the public and private sectors.

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