By Kevin Hagler
A sign reads "Pray for our town Ringgold" in front of a small business just outside of downtown.
I’m going to go ahead and say it: Ringgold, Georgia looks like a war zone. In the waning days of April, mother nature decided to rear her head and it was by no means pretty. As cliches go, I’m 2 for 2, but in this case it definitely applies.
Red Cross disaster volunteer Nigel Poole from Americus,Georgia talks with a woman during one of his stops delivering meals and supplies to residents of tornado-ravaged Ringgold,Georgia. Photo: Kevin Hagler/American Red Cross
Last week, Ruben, Tina, and I headed from Atlanta to Ringgold–one of the hardest hit areas of the state– to get an idea of just what the situation is up there. What we found were demolished houses, businesses, and a downtown area which has suffered significant damage (both physically and emotionally). But what was most striking was the capacity of compassion and drive of those who seek to help others (many of whom are working for free and many of whom have endured damage as well). The Red Cross had an immediate presence on that front.
“It’s an honor to be able to serve” said Nigel Poole, Americus Red Crosser and Emergency Response Vehicle (ERV) driver.
We shadowed Nigel for a large part of the day as he went from neighborhood to neighborhood and shelter to shelter, feeding and supplying tornado victims across Ringgold.
In doing so, we had the chance to speak to some folks who were hardest hit by the tornadoes:
“It’s a blessing” said Mrs. Allen, a displaced resident of Ringgold. “A lot of the residents are without power and water so they can’t cook.” Mrs. Allen’s home was completely destroyed and she was grateful that she could count on the Red Cross for food and comfort. “The Red Cross has provided hot meals for everyone. It’s a god send” she said.
Red cross volunteer Mona Balogun serves a hot meal to Kenneth Gable, a utility worker from New Orleans who helping to restore power in Ringgold, Georgia
Some neighborhood homes were entirely destroyed. In fact, one home “pancaked” meaning that a bottom floor of a multi-floor home gave way for the top floor to fall (pictured below).
Remarkably, the family survived. A lone refrigerator helped save the life of the lady of the household. The very refrigerator she fought to rid of throughout the year.
Red Cross disaster volunteers, Mollie Hamby and Mona Balogun, survey a demolished home in the Salem Valley Rd. area of Ringgold. Remarkably, the family survived the tornado.
After a long day it is clear that many people rely on Red Cross’ services in order to get by. It was even clearer that my “long day” is nothing compared to the weeks of hard work of those Red Cross volunteers at the scene, not the mention the hardship of those who are now homeless and in need of our help.
Whether it be food, water, shelter, comfort kits, cleanup kits, or medical needs, the Red Cross is there to help.
But, how can you help? Here’s how:
Text REDCROSS to 90999 for a $10 donation
OR Click the “Donate” tab at the top of the page for more information.