Green Country Native Shares Experiences In Alabama's Tornados

Sunday, May 1st 2011, 9:05 pm
By: News On 6

Emily Baucum, News On 6

TAHLEQUAH, Oklahoma -- Tornados ravaged the South last week, but access to the basics, like food and water, is hard to come by. With so many areas simply leveled, the task is daunting to say the least.

Thousands of people in the storm-stricken South are still without power. No power means no internet, no phones and no way to find out when help is at your doorstep.

Tiffany Richter's daughter survived her first tornado. The little girl will never remember it, but her mother--a Green Country native--saw the funnel form over their Alabama home.

"That was the first one that I have seen on the ground moving," Richter said.

Richter says they got lucky. A massive tree is leaning on the roof but the twister spared their home.

"We go into town and see that buildings are just flattened," she said. "The downtown is decimated."

Communication's gone, power lights are dangling; news is delivered through word of mouth.

"What you hear. They're shutting off the water; they're not shutting off the water. The water's contaminated, no it's not," she said.

"People don't have internet. They don't have running water," said Shannon Wilburn.

Shannon Wilburn runs Just Between Friends, a group that holds consignment sales around the country. She says events in Tennessee and Georgia are affected by the monster storm system.

"It would be just like here. If we had tornadoes wipe out half the city, no one's thinking about going to a sale at the Expo. They're thinking about survival," Wilburn said.

What's so frustrating: people need the cheap clothes and supplies now more than ever. Wilburn says one seller lost everything to the storm except her car.

"She had loaded all of her stuff in her car, already tagged and everything, ready to take to the sale," she said.

As a final act of desperation, the woman is selling literally the only possessions she has left.

"She was like, 'At this point, I just need money. I can live in my car,'" Wilburn said

Richter's taking refuge at her family's home in Tahlequah.

"As soon as power goes up, I'll go back," she said.

Hoping when she returns, another form of power--strength--helps the community rebuild.

Major roads are also cut off. A Just Between Friends event organizer in Georgia says her 45-minute commute is now 4 1/2 hours.

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