January 25, 2017 (ALBANY, GA) — The tornado that struck southeast Albany on Sunday afternoon has brought in an outpouring of support from all walks of life, from the everyday citizen to well-known city leaders and even an American Idol.
The Salvation Army’s disaster relief vehicle, joined by “American Idol” winner and chart-topping recording artist Phillip Phillips, continued its relief efforts Wednesday, venturing into an environment where there are building checks, tarps on roofs, scattered debris and trees as far as the eye can see.
In some cases, there were complete losses.
“A neighborhood looks one way and (in a moment), it looks nothing like the way it did before,” Albany Salvation Army Maj. Kelly English said.
Phillips, a Leesburg native and the “American Idol” Season 11 winner, was with this wife, Hannah, on the truck distributing food as well as goodwill.
He said a few hours after the tornado ravaged the area, he was out with his in-laws in the Radium Springs area, compelled to help.
“We are trying to do what we can to help,” he said, “whatever the city needs.”
Phillips’ connection to the Salvation Army is through his father-in-law, Board Member David Blackwell. When approached about the possibility of helping, the singer was open to the idea.
“It is heart-wrenching because we are seeing people with no home,” he said.
The emotional stress brought on by the fatal storm has been heightened by other recent weather events. Many had still not come to terms with the impact sustained from a Jan. 2 storm that left thousands without power and downed thousands of trees.
English compared the dual disasters to a freight train that has been stopped, only to be started up again.
“There is a whole new group added to (the storm devastation),” he said. “It is a lot to take in. It is cool to watch people respond and think beyond themselves. They are reaching out without expecting anything in return.”
In the disaster truck Wednesday were hot dogs, Gatorade, water, chips and fruit. The service is being provided to the areas hardest hit, including Holly Drive and Hardup Road, to anybody who walked up to receive it — including small children looking for some juice.
“You are never promised anything,” Phillips said. “You don’t want to take anything for granted. Until you get out in it, you don’t really know how bad it is.
“This is my home, these are all my people (and I want to do) all I can.”
In many cases, the truck is going to people who can’t get out to get food otherwise, but as the Salvation Army has found, food is only one of the needs.
“In the places we’ve been, people need talking to as much as they need food,” said Harold Boling, another one of the volunteers.
The truck is expected to be out daily for as long as it is needed in the impacted areas.
Article and photos from Albany Herald