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Mayflower and Vilonia Tornado Victims Receive Donation of $1500 from Storm Assist

Mayflower and Vilonia Tornado Victims Receive Donation of $1500 from Storm Assist

On Tuesday May 6th, volunteer representative Jeremy Degenhart and Storm Assist member Bucky Graham visited the Mayflower and Vilonia Fire Departments to deliver $1500 in donations for tornado victims of the 4/27/2014 tornadoes that ravaged Arkansas.  They met with the Fire Department chiefs of both cities and delivered visa gift cards for distribution to tornado victims in need.

The chiefs of both fire departments were overworked and exhausted, and still made time for our reps to come by and meet with them.  They shared a great deal about the needs and work to be done in the communities.  Both of them were tired and short on sleep.  Some of the firefighters had not slept in days.  It was our privilege to meet with them, and we cannot express our gratitude for their willingness to help us find the right recipients for this money.  Over the next few weeks the Fire Department will be sitting down with families and individuals impacted by the tornado, and determining what their needs are, and will be distributing these gift cards on our behalf.

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Bucky gave us this account of his experience and his visit:

“These two towns made national news late Sunday, April 27 when an EF4 tornado swept through the towns.  I was on the storm right as it was getting its act together and roughly 20 miles before it first touched down. However, I never got to see how bad it was until I was given this opportunity.

I was honored to be able to speak with the first responders and emergency managers in Mayflower and Vilonia as they told their stories of how the evening unfolded. I was heartbroken and also proud at the same time. Some would say “There’s always a silver lining”. With both towns striving to put back the pieces, a homeowner who lived just a football field away from the devastated Parkwood subdivision was happy to still have his family and most of his home intact.

“It sounded like several jet engines” says mrs Lusty. “When the weather radio went off, we immediately got down in our metal tub and covered ourselves with a mattress”. The family said it lasted at least two minutes. The Lusty’s whom have been married 56 years are happy to still call Vilonia home. Mr. Lusty exclaimed, “the last one back in 2011 took off my roof.  As you can see, I made improvements” as he chuckled.

Even though their home was still together, the couple was told by the city officials it may have shifted off the foundation and may have to be repaired. For now, the couple and their pets have been given a helping hand from the community and the country in getting back on their feet. They will continue to stay in their home until a decision is made. They were such a nice couple to meet and talk to. I was glad to hear their story. It was an honor and a privilege to deliver gift cards to the fire stations as they can help those out that need the help the most.

Every single time I see a tornado damage path and devastation, I always see people working together to bring it back to life. It’s a wonderful sight.”

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Jeremy had a few notes about his experience as well:

Vilonia was as bad as I’ve ever seen. Could see the damage path from the 2011 tornado coming into the west side of town, and then after about a half-mile swath of undamaged terrain, the new damage path started.First thing I noticed was all of the clear slabs. Picked clean. Talking to the fire chief and the other people we met was pretty amazing…most positive people I’ve ever met. Still a ton of work to do.

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Stay tuned for more donation stories as we have two more towns that are receiving donations over the next week.  We couldn’t accomplish these goals without YOUR help.  A huge “thank you!” to everyone who donated, purchased merchandise and has supported us.  If you’d like to help us in our goal to provide relief and aid to tornado victims this spring please visit the Storm Assist STORE, or consider a direct donation.  We are also in need of SPONSORSHIP from companies, corporations or individuals.  Sponsorships start at only $50.  Click HERE for more information.

We couldn’t do it without all of you.

~Storm Assist Team