Day 2 in the tornado-affected areas
May 4, 2011
My second day of my trip started at the Chattanooga Food Bank in Tennessee. They serve a wide area that includes places hit by the tornadoes in Tennessee and Georgia including one town of Trenton, GA.
As my colleague Charles and I drove, we approached a hill with an exit to Trenton. When we got to the top, our conversation stopped because we both saw that Trenton had been completely flattened. There was not much standing of this town. I had seen some of the devastation but the true power hit when I saw a whole town wiped off the map.
The food bank already had a meal box program and after the tornadoes switched to disaster boxes focusing on meals and foods that did not require electricity. The boxes were a marvel in packing as every square inch was filled with things like tortillas, canned meat and fruit and snack bars.
We travelled to rural Northern Alabama which was hit pretty hard. Most of the area still did not have power. We stopped at a local fast food place to get some breakfast and the place was running on a generator and only offering 7 of their menu items. They had lost most of their inventory during the power outage (just like most of the people living in the area).
Next door, there was a makeshift meal distribution site in the parking lot of the local KMart who let them use their generator to cook.
We then met Richard who works with the Food Bank of North Alabama. He took us to Rainsville, a town that already experienced hardship when the main employer shut down two years ago. This town is in Dekalb county which according to the Map the Meal Gap has a hunger rate of 19.7% – much higher than the national and Alabama rates.
After seeing the devastated areas, we went to a feeding agency. I met Mary, who some called “Granny”. She had been with the agency since the beginning and had not had power for five days. I was fortunate that she took time to chat with me.