Sometimes the worst brings out the best

In the wake of last week’s horrific storms that swept across the state, the best and worst of human nature were brought into focus.

We’ll start with the bad. Four men from Florida were arrested and charged with looting in the ravaged Pleasant Grove area.

It seems these four thought a community that had been blasted by the worst that Mother Nature had to offer would be easy pickings. Bad decision. Neighbors saw the men loading items from a damaged home onto a truck and called 911.

When deputies responded, they found the men being held at gunpoint by neighbors at another location in the area.

Bond for the men has been set at $200,000 each, with one of them getting an additional $50,000 bond for possession of oxycontin.

What do you do with criminals who prey on the most vulnerable? Looting from people who have lost everything is simply incomprehensible but not to these four. So, what to do with them? (I say let them stay in jail until all the clean up and recovery is complete and then put them on trial. No need to speed things along for these guys. They can keep.)

Now for a better representation of human nature.

Organizers of relief work have been overwhelmed by the massive outpouring of material goods and volunteers.

Americans in general, and especially southerners, are quick to lend a hand in times of need and the worst tornado outbreak in nearly 80 years definitely qualifies as a time of need.

Millions of bottles of water have been donated – from huge corporations to elderly people on fixed incomes.

FEMA, which has taken a public relations beating in recent years (remember Hurricane Katrina?), has been praised for its quick response in areas like Cullman, Pleasant Grove, and Hackleburg.

Locally, the Blountsville area was the hardest hit, although damage was reported in other areas of the county – especially Hayden and Snead.

Individuals and companies from throughout the area have responded to help those who need it the most. I know of restaurants that served relief workers until the food in the kitchen ran out, and I know of county and municipal crews that stayed on the job for 48 hours straight.

I will not try to mention all of those that have helped; that’s not possible. I would like to recognize one of Blount County’s better corporate citizens.

Tyson Foods has always been an important part of our county. This past week only served as a reminder of how the company cares about the area.

Tyson has donated truckloads of goods – from food products to ice and water – since last Wednesday and continues to do so. The company had six cooking teams in northern Alabama two days after the storms, preparing food for relief workers and residents of the damaged areas.

Remember in the coming days that the relief effort is just beginning. Donations to organizations like The American Red Cross and The Hope House are needed.

Let’s not forget the storms of April 27. No, remember those who had their lives changed forever and let’s all do what we can to make a difference. rr