Ten memory boards were given out to Red Cross chapters throughout the state in areas of major disaster including Tuscaloosa, Pleasant Grove and Prattville.
Peggy Mann, the community chapter executive of the Talladega-St. Clair Chapter said she was glad Shoal Creek was not forgotten.
“It was a smaller community, but they’re just as important. We did not forget Shoal Creek,” Mann said. “As a director, I was appreciative that we were given this board.”
The local Shoal Creek fire department recently hosted an event for the community that included a 5K Walk, and an opportunity for residents and survivors to express themselves by writing a message on the “Remembering the Past, Preparing for the Future” board.
“It’s just so many different people who came by at the fire station,” Mann said. “There were a lot of hugs, a lot of tears. This board was for the people.”
The handwritten messages on the board expressed thanks and hope for a brighter future in the form of bible verses, inspirational quotes and personal messages.
“God bless all those we lost and all those who have helped us,” signed Carl.
Another message simply cited Jeremiah 29:11.
“God held tight to us through the storm…” read another message.
“Thank you from the bottom of the Smith family’s hearts,” wrote Joshua Smith. “If it wasn’t for y’all, we would have went hungry, Thank You.”
“The Shoal Creek Valley was hit all the way up the valley,” Mann said. “There were 13 lives lost.”
Mann said her Red Cross chapter had a shelter open at Greensport Baptist Church and set up operations for tornado victims.
The shelter was then transformed into an aid station where volunteers handed out food, shovels, rakes and other items, in addition to providing counseling from mental health professionals.
“We were on the ground out there for at least a month and we are still helping,” Mann said.
She said that the chapter still provides emotional and mental counseling for tornado survivors, and they still promote “Being Red Cross Ready” which consists of a three-step action plan to know how to be prepared during a disaster.
“Get a kit, make a plan and be informed,” Mann said. “We want to thank all of our volunteers who helped us and continue to help us today.”
The memory board now has a home in the chapter’s Talladega office and will be displayed for the chapter’s annual meeting in June.
“We wanted to give back and give an outlet for people to express themselves,” Mann said. “The Red Cross is still here and we’re still assisting.”
Contact Aziza Jackson at firstname.lastname@example.org.