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Event Date: 5/20/2011

Families struggle to recover after tornadoes
ˇ·Reported by Aileen Huang


A few weeks after the tornadoes hit the South, hundreds of families are still figuring out how to get back on their feet. The media has stopped reporting the disasters, but hundreds of families are still stranded, without a home or a way out. The weather has calmed, but the buildings and homes in the area remain devastated. Tzu Chi volunteers from all over the country have mobilized and continued relief efforts in the region.

On May 15, a team of Tzu Chi volunteers visited affected households of Chalet Ridge Mobile Home Park in Tuscaloosa, Alabama to assess disaster damages. This area is home to middle to low income families and was nearly destroyed in the tornadoes. Tzu Chi volunteers had a lucky encounter with a college student who expressed his gratitude for Tzu Chi’s presence, explaining that people in the area were beginning to feel abandoned and forgotten. He was eager to volunteer. Another young student approached Tzu Chi the next day to give thanks – this young man had been sitting in the front of his house studying when he saw the sky suddenly darken and felt the violent storm quickly approaching. He ducked into his bathroom and clung tightly onto a water pipe, and after the tornado had come and gone, he emerged with cuts and wounds all over his body but thankful to be alive. Both of these students offered their time to assist the Tzu Chi team of volunteers in their relief tour of the region.

On the morning of May 18, the Tzu Chi team held a distribution of emergency cash cards to 25 affected households. Families from all over the small town showed up to receive their relief supplies. Many families began chatting and sharing their stories while hanging around Tzu Chi’s community distribution center. One resident mentioned to a Tzu Chi volunteer that it was the first time she felt like Chalet Ridge was a community, not just a mobile home park.

On the same day, the volunteers attended a meeting with FEMA and city government. It was decided that Tzu Chi would help families who had urgent needs but could not receive assistance from other agencies. On the same evening at 9pm, the team of volunteers held a distribution of emergency cash cards to 13 families with urgent needs.

On May 19, the team of volunteers met up with the Mayor of Tuscaloosa to discuss mid- and long-term needs and assistance, as well as distributed emergency cash cards to 2 additional families who had urgent needs.

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 press release, please send an email to gracechen@us.tzuchi.org or contact Han Huang 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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