Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Volunteer efforts aid Rosedale residents

In a community where living conditions have been lower than the standard in Tuscaloosa, food provided by such establishments as Logan’s, Captain D’s, Subway and Moe’s—not to mention people constantly grilling out—is a luxury to many residents of Rosedale Court, located on 10th Avenue.

“[Federal Emergency Management Agency] has been very good, their supply has been great,” Lisa Sanders, 39, said.

“People can’t cook, there’s no power,” she said. “And they have no money to go out to eat.”

Sanders said she has yet to contact FEMA, though she plans to in the next few days. Regardless, she said, she’s seen firsthand what the agency has already done in Rosedale.

“I can’t be choosey,” she said. “I appreciate whatever they can do.”

Still, Sanders does have things she’d like to have more than others.

“Most of all, I want a place to stay, and I’d like some furniture,” she said.

Tim Tyson, FEMA spokesman, said there are three ways in which a person in need can contact FEMA.

“There’s a number you can call: 1-800-621-FEMA,” Tyson said. “You can visit our website [] or you can download the mobile application by visiting”

After a person registers with FEMA, a FEMA application number is issued, allowing FEMA personnel to keep track of individuals.

“Once registered, FEMA schedules an inspector to meet residents at their house,” Tyson said. “The inspectors carry computers with them and upload the information as soon as possible.

“Within the week, a person could potentially receive a direct deposit to help them with [the cost of] repairs,” he said.

Sanders and her 11-year-old son, Charles, as well as her 2-year-old son, Kendrell, have been living in the Belk Center off Skyland Boulevard since Wednesday after the tornado struck, sharing the space with about 250 people. That number has dropped significantly in the days since the tornado; Wednesday night, Redcross spokeswoman Suzanne Horsley said, there were upwards of 500 people.

Since 2-year-old Kendrell is still in diapers, Sanders said volunteers constantly cycling through the community have provided her with an absolute necessity.

“We’re good on pampers and wipes,” she said. “We have to have them every time we travel.”

Michael G. Moore, 52, who lives just down the street, said he’s never been hungry in the tornado aftermath because of all the volunteer efforts.

“Every place you can possibly imagine or name has been passing out food,” he said. “People who have not been affected by the storm have been coming in from all over and volunteering.”

Some people in Rosedale have contacted FEMA and already received assistance, he said.

“People sometimes have to come back here to meet FEMA,” he said. “Most of the people from [the area that got hit directly] have already left.”

Moore said he called FEMA early Monday, and as of approximately 2 p.m, he was waiting to hear back about his appointment time, though he anticipated receiving a call by the end of Monday.

“They were on the ball today,” he said. “They’re serving a lot of people—we’ve had family members already serviced, and there are a number of other people.”

Other residents of Rosedale agreed, saying that volunteers had assisted them in digging through the rubble to find what little they could of their belongings.

“When I was out clearing rubble yesterday, there were a couple of girls that came by to help us dig through the rubble of my mom and dad’s house, to help find my little daughter’s baby clothes and her pictures from when she was a baby on up until now,” Rosedale resident Anthony Carter said. “That was really helpful.”

Carter said that there was a constant flow of volunteers into the area that provided whatever needs they could.

“Volunteers and the Red Cross have brought us water, Gatorade, shirts, because we didn’t have any t-shirts or whatever, barbecue plates, anything that we needed,” he said.  “They’ve been real helpful.”

Nothing is left of the house that Carter and his family once called home.

“We live right where all that rubble is,” he said.  “The only thing left of our house is the closets.  The kitchen is where the bathroom once was.  You can’t tell one room from the next when you go over there.  It’s crazy.”

Volunteers helping with the disaster relief say they feel blessed to be able to help with the relief.

Maggie Whiteson, 12, a student at Tuscaloosa Academy, said she feels like God led her to help disaster victims.

“I really for sorry for people who lost their homes,” she said.

Whiteson is working with Samaritan’s Purse, an international humanitarian relief organization led by Franklin Grahm.

Samaritan’s Purse is basing its efforts out of Tuscaloosa First Baptist Church, and sent 1200 volunteers out into affected areas yesterday. They are distributing water to survivors and helping them move out of their homes. The organization has also brought in demolition crews for long-term recovery efforts.

John Lowe, the youth minister at First Baptist, said that when the tornado hit, he was at UAB in Birmingham where his son had surgery early last week.

“My phone exploded with reports of high school and middle school students with our student ministry going out to help, on their own initiative,” he said.  “I cannot express how gratifying it is to see the spirit of people coming together to help.”

Lowe said the disaster had forced their ministry into parts of town they would have never thought to go before.

“These kids from this neighborhood come to our Vacation Bible School every year, and now we are coming to their back yard,” he said.

In addition to clothing, food and shelter—some of the staples many people first think to donate to disaster victims—groups of independent volunteers have been donating items like bags of ice and coolers so people in the community have the option of, at least temporarily, keeping a supply of perishable food items in their home.

They’ve also supplied toiletries like soap, shampoo and toothbrushes, although Moore said since Rosedale is still without power or water, they’ve had to make do using bottled water to brush their teeth.

However, Moore said having to cut corners is a small price to pay for the ultimate gift they’ve been given.

“There’s a reason through all, for all,” he said. “But even if you lost life, you still have life,” he said, talking about his faith in Christianity. “Sometimes people say, ‘What is death?’ but the real question is, ‘What is life?’

“Even those who are gone now aren’t really dead,” he said. “Life is just transformed.”

While many Rosedale residents have forsaken the demolished community for places like the shelter at the Belk Center or moved in with family members, there are still a few people who brave the wreckage.

“Stay blessed, man,” Moore said as a man passed him on the street.

More to Discover