Hale County establishing post-disaster volunteer network


By WVUA 23 News Reporter Aajene Robinson

Representatives from Hale County attended Tuscaloosa’s Voluntary Organization Active in Disaster annual meeting Thursday to learn how they can establish their own disaster volunteer network.

Friday’s meeting was focused on how Hale County can get its own VOAD started up to fill the needs of community members still suffering in the wake of Feb. 3’s EF2 tornado in Sawyerville.

Hale County Emergency Management Agency Director Russel Weeden said it’s important they get the VOAD up and running, but they need volunteers ready and willing to lend themselves to the cause.

“It’s really good for all the volunteer organizations to come together with the churches, that way it’s a large group trying to solve one problem and not just one or two people trying to solve the problems of the community,” Weeden said.

Many Hale County tornado victims were also at the event, including Shahrie Bryant, and Wilma Harris. Both said they’re not happy about how long it might take to get the VOAD started, because that means it’ll take even longer for them to get back in a home.

“People are tired of being stuck in hotel rooms or trying to find somewhere to lay their heads,” Bryant said. “The community just needs some help. People are telling us that they are going to help, but we aren’t seeing any help.”

Harris agreed.

“We are not rich people,” Harris said. “We are blessed. I’m not saying we are not, but it’s a situation where we need help from the outside, the government or whatever we can get.”

Hale County Circuit Judge and local pastor Marvin Wiggins said they are working to get victims out of hotels and into affordable housing so they can raise their families without the added stress.

“We are trying to pull those resources together to ensure we get our contractors committed so maybe we can build an affordable community,” Wiggins said. “We temporarily put them in mobile homes, but they need an affordable house and hopefully we as a community can do that.”

Wiggins said the next step is getting paperwork ready so they can select officers and start up the VOAD.

“Once we select our officers we will be off the ground and we will be an official organization able to receive resources that the state has that can help this community,”  Wiggins said.

As officials figure out who to reach out to for resources, the community is coming together to help each other out with food and clean up.

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