Tornado recovery in Alabama takes time, flexibility and true partners in philanthropy

Tornado recovery in Alabama takes time, flexibility and true partners in philanthropy

Posted on September 25, 2013 by Michael Corley, consultant with The Patterson Foundation

It has been almost two and a half years since tornadoes ripped through northeast Alabama, devastating some towns and skipping over others. For many, time heals some wounds -- but certainly not all.

At The Patterson Foundation, we remember it well. We heard news of the tornadoes on April 27, 2011. Just days later, the foundation's designation committee, which functions as its board, approved for The Patterson Foundation to act to help those in need.

Over the next five months, TPF collaborated with the Joy FM, the Community Foundation of Northeast Alabama, and the First Baptist Church of Williams to provide relief and encourage generosity.

Here's a snapshot our support in the weeks and months following the tornadoes:

May 9, 2011 - Initial $33,000 match with the Joy FM became a $50,000 match for rebuilding efforts coordinated through the First Baptist Church of Williams

August 12, 2011 - The Patterson Foundation issues a $100,000 matching challenge for tornado recovery donations made to the Community Foundation of Northeast Alabama

September 2011 - Inspired by generosity, The Patterson Foundation increases the match to $200,000

November 2011 - The Patterson Foundation increases the match once more -- to $250,000

We've been sharing updates along the way, but we recently received another update from Eula Tatman, Vice President of Grants, Scholarships and Initiatives at the Community Foundation of Northeast Alabama that we are sharing with you here:

Things have gone very well for our Tornado Recovery efforts. The four counties we were able to assist with the generous match from The Patterson Foundation have wrapped things up after two years of rebuilding.

We have learned that assisting with long-term recovery is a undertaking that does not happen overnight. The overwhelming amount of devastation that occurred in Northeast Alabama demanded that the long-term recovery committees (“LTRC”) approach the recovery efforts with caution, and in some cases, with swift action.

An insightful lesson learned in this process was that those that were affected and lost everything, inclusive of the loss of their loved ones, were not emotionally equipped to pick-up and start over immediately. There had to be time for mourning and reflections.

Needless to say, we can’t thank you and The Patterson Foundation enough for your support. Of the $500,000.00 earmarked for Tornado Recovery for the April 2011 tornados, we have approximately $20,000.00 left. Because we did not place a time limit on when the funding had to be spent, the LTRC chose to spend our tornado recovery funds after they spent those with time constraints. This decision left unspent funding after 2 years of recovery assistance.

DeKalb County Children’s Advocacy Center was in need of hiring an additional counselor to help the families cope with aftermath of the storms. They deal with issues such as children and some adults having panic attacks when severe weather approaches and adjusting to their new way of life. It is sad to know that after 2 years, families are still being affected by the storms.

We all know the question is not if, but when the next disaster strikes; for that reason, the Community Foundation of Northeast Alabama has created an Unmet Needs (Disaster) fund with the remaining funds to assist our community when the time comes.

The community foundation will have a nucleus of funding to be at the table to begin to partner with other funders.

“The greatest good you can do another is not just share your riches, but to reveal him his own.” - Benjamin Franklin. This quote speaks true to our relationship with TPF. Our partnership is a true example of how two organizations working together to increase the possibility of each attaining their mission and expanding their philanthropic reach.

Thank you,

Eula Tatman, Vice President

Grants, Scholarships & Initiatives

Community Foundation of Northeast Alabama

  • Learn about these and other concepts used in TPF's approach to philanthropy.


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