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Tornado recovery efforts underway in Selma as nation prepares to remember MLK

ALABAMA-TORNADO
Stew Milne/AP
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FR56276 AP
Algunos automóviles avanzan cuidadosamente en medio de líneas eléctricas y árboles caídos el viernes 13 de enero de 2023, en Selma, Alabama, luego de que un tornado pasó por el área el día previo. (AP Foto/Stew Milne)

The Martin Luther King, junior national holiday is taking on special meaning in the historic Alabama city of Selma. Public service projects were planned for today before last Thursday’s massive tornado that tore through the town with links to the state’s fight for civil rights. Those efforts will take place alongside volunteers handing out food, water, and clothing for storm victims. APR collaborates with the Selma Sun newspaper. Sun staffer Todd Prater* says the paper is working with local support groups…

“And so, we’ve been in contact with the Red Cross,” said Prater. “There’s a group here in the Black Belt called Love Is What Love Does. They’re very influential in helping with situations like this.”

Looting is another concern in Dallas County which has the third highest unemployment rate in the State. Selma city officials want people still without power to feel safe going to shelters. The city’s civil rights image was carved following the 1965 attack on the Edmund Pettus Bridge that became known as “bloody Sunday.” Marchers, like future Georgia Congressman John Lewis, where set upon by a police posse using clubs and tear gas. The demonstrators were on their way to Montgomery to protest in favor of voting rights. The Selma Sun’s Todd Prater says his paper is working with tornado relief agencies to do more than just the basics…

“And not only bring them food and water and any necessities…clothing, things like that,” said Prater. “But, also chainsaws and cleaning supplies, to move debris, move trees, help clean their homes. So, they can return to a normal life before too, too long.”

An Alabama mechanic took refuge in a shipping container as a tornado decimated his shop and killed two neighbors. A woman hid in a bathtub with her 2-year-old son. The harrowing stories of survivors of Thursday's storm are emerging as residents comb through the wreckage wrought by tornadoes and blistering winds that killed at least nine people in Alabama and Georgia. Survivors described chaotic scenes unfolding as the storm spun toward them, with people rushing into shelters and sheds as the winds bore down. Many thanks to the Selma Sun and Black Belt News Network for their help in this story. For more, go to apr.org.

Pat Duggins is news director for Alabama Public Radio.
Alabama Public Radio is proud to collaborate with the Selma Sun and its publishers Cindy Fisher, Brad Fisher, and Debrah Fisher. Past stories have included the renovation of the St James Hotel, the rescue of historic homes in Selma, and the announcement of the John Lewis Voting Rights Act by Congresswoman Terri Sewell at the foot of the Edmund Pettus Bridge
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