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Event Date: 5/13/2011

Tornado and Flood Disaster Relief in the South and Midwest
ˇ·Reported by Aileen Huang


Volunteers at the Tzu Chi office based in North Carolina have begun their relief efforts in Stony Brook, a mobile home park in North Carolina where hundreds of families have been displaced by the tornadoes. A catastrophic outbreak of tornadoes rolled through the Southern states of Arkansas, Mississippi, Alabama, and Georgia on April 16, and continued its sweep into Tennessee, North Carolina, and Virginia over the course of a week. The deadliest impact was felt in Alabama where the tornadoes took the lives of over 200 people. In North Carolina alone, there were 62 tornadoes that left 23 people dead.

Seven Tzu Chi volunteers arrived early morning in North Carolina on April 24 and prepared breakfast for families still living in the tornado-struck area with nowhere else to go. Tzu Chi volunteers distributed 64 blankets, 50 packs of daily necessities, and four large bags of food to the local residents. Volunteers paid special attention to those who had lost family members in the tragedy. After an on-site assessment of the damages, Tzu Chi volunteers decided to offer nine severely traumatized families long-term care, providing them with emergency cash cards and blankets.

On April 28, yet another disaster was on the rise – the Mississippi River swelled to unprecedented levels, threatening Tennessee, Louisiana, and Mississippi with major floods.

Tzu Chi has set up an Emergency Operation Center in response to the devastating effects of the tornadoes, as well as in preparation for the potential damages of the floods. Tzu Chi volunteers will hold daily meetings at offices throughout the region to conduct further damage assessment as well as put together operational strategies to distribute goods to all of those who were affected. Tzu Chi volunteers have been mobilizing all over the country, offering their time and support to the disaster-struck region.

A team of volunteers from the Tzu Chi office in Atlanta traveled around Georgia to assess the damages brought about by the tornadoes, bringing with them relief supplies such as toiletries and protective gloves and goggles to distribute to the region’s survivors.

On May 12, at about 6:45 a.m., Tzu Chi volunteers arrived in Birmingham, Alabama, the most heavily impacted area in the tornado region. Their first stop was the Red Cross Emergency Operation Center where they were welcomed by a number of Red Cross members who recognized Tzu Chi’s signature blue and white uniforms. They met with fellow volunteers from California, New York, Indiana, and Dallas. Community Services Chief Clyde Roberts and Diane Novack briefed Tzu Chi volunteers on their progress in the area before they went out to survey the damages. All around them, trees were uprooted, homes were destroyed, and the area was flattened.

Tzu Chi will continue to monitor the situation and relief progress in the Southeast and Mid-Atlantic in the weeks to come.

For more information on how to make a donation in the United States, please visit http://www.us.tzuchi.org/usa/home.nsf/other/donateCharity You may make a donation with

  • Cash
  • Check (payable to “Tzu Chi”) to 1100 S. Valley Center Ave., San Dimas, CA 91773 or a Tzu Chi office near you
  •  Credit Card (call 1-888-9TZUCHI between 9am-6pm PST) 
  • Online using Google Checkout or Paypal. Your donation is tax-deductible in the United States.

If you are located in any of the regions impacted by the tornadoes and floods please contact Tzu Chi at (909)447-7799 ext. 501 for assistance. To find the contact information of your local Tzu Chi office, please visit http://www.us.tzuchi.org/usa/home.nsf/contact/index

For more information about this report, please send an email to gracechen@us.tzuchi.org or contact Grace Chen at (909)447-8613.

About Tzu Chi
The Buddhist Tzu Chi Foundation, whose name means "compassion and relief," is an international humanitarian organization with a special consultative status at the United Nations Economic and Social Council. Founded by Dharma Master Cheng Yen in 1966, the group has nearly 10 million volunteers and supporters in 50 countries and has provided aid in 70 countries. Tzu Chi's work spans the fields of charity, medicine, education, environmental protection and disaster relief. It also established what is now the world's third largest bone marrow donor registry, and promotes humanistic values and community volunteerism. In 1984, Tzu Chi Foundation registered as a non-profit 501(c)(3) charitable organization in California. In 1989, the first office in the U.S. was established in Alhambra, CA. Since then, more than 80 offices and facilities have been established with over 120,000 volunteers and supporters working to make a difference in their local communities. For more information about Tzu Chi USA, please visit http://www.us.tzuchi.org

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