Answering the call
Oak Ridge couple helps those devastated by Hurricane Ivan
Clif Knight, Hartselle Enquirer
A desire to help Hurricane Ivan victims in Baldwin County triggered an overwhelming display of compassion and humanitarianism recently, thanks to the generosity of Joe and Deborah Reid of the Oak Ridge community.
The Reids delivered an estimated four tons of badly-needed supplies to family members and their friends and neighbors in the Foley area on Sept. 21, four days after the massive storm made landfall on the Gulf Coast. The supplies, which included nonperishable food items, bottled water and health aids, were donated mostly by local families who learned about the need through their churches.
"When we arrived at my sister's home at 7:30 p.m. several families were waiting. They had no electricity and tap and well water was unsuitable for human consumption unless it was boiled. The storm shelters in that area closed prior to the storm's arrival and many people who had not evacuated were left on their own to ride out the storm. In many cases, stored food and supplies were gone and the stores were empty. Word of our arrival spread quickly and everything we brought was gone by 11 p.m. It was only later that we realized that we had kept back nothing for our own use," Deborah said.
A letter written by Bree Perryman of Gulf Shores expresses gratitude to the Reids and to those who donated food and other items for distribution in Baldwin County. It reads, in part, as follows:
"I have two small children and we were without power and running water for over a week. With the gifts that we received, I would not have been able to feed my children. It was such a blessing from the good Lord above. By his mercy we survived and by his mercy we will survive the aftermath.
"I delivered several boxes of groceries and water to an elderly couple who live near my home. When I got to their home I found that they had three other families staying with them because their had either lost their homes or had not yet been permitted to return. They had run out of water the day before. I wish that I could have captured the look on their faces when they saw what I had brought to them. It was such a blessing to be able to fellowship with them about how the Lord always provides."
Deborah said she talked with family members by telephone on the same day the storm hit and learned of the tragic circumstances they faced.
"Joe and I wanted to do something to help," she pointed out. "I told one of my friends about my concern and she said she would talk to her pastor about the matter."
"We had a few calls from people who wanted to make donations over the next couple of days," she added. "Then, when word of the need was circulated in churches on Sunday, we were overrun with phone calls from people who wanted to know how they could help. Box after box of donated goods arrived on Sunday afternoon and before the end of the day on Monday we had to start turning away supplies."
"I don't believe there was an ounce of greed in anyone who came to pick up supplies," Deborah recalled. "In fact, we had people who turned away items offered to them because they wanted others in need to have access to them."
The Reids singled out Deer Springs Baptist Church, Bible Baptist Church and Oak Ridge Baptist Church for taking a lead role in the effort. She also thanked Glenn and Inez Borden, Wayne and Judy Borden, Neel Senior Citizens Center and Joe Wheeler EMC employees for their help.
They also expressed gratitude to Eddie Preuitt Ford and Coastal Ford of Mobile for their help in resolving a dilemma they faced with respect to a broken down truck. Joe Reid said the transmission of his pickup quit 50 feet from their destination. "
I feel the additional weight contributed to its failure," he stated. "After I learned what it was going to cost to fix it there, I called Eddie Preuitt and he agreed to help me get the truck home if I decided to have it repaired. Later, Coastal Ford offered me a trade-in deal I couldn't refuse and we were able to return home in a new vehicle."
The couple pointed out that what they did to help others less fortunate was far less than the blessing they received.
"I'm just glad we were able to help,"Deborah said. I'm proud to live in a country where people have such caring, loving hearts."