Help comes for GA survivors

Response has been slow as news of the March 20 tornado competed for media attention with the start of the war in Iraq.

BY TRAVIS DUNN | CAMILLA, GA | April 16, 2003



"Life goes on. We just got to make the best of it."

—--Tornado survivor


At first, volunteers from Adventist Disaster Relief had a difficult time getting donations to help victims of a tornado that hit here last month.

Three years earlier, when tornadoes struck the same town on Valentine's Day, the Adventists didn't have any trouble. In fact, they were inundated with so many donations that their warehouse was overflowing with clothes and canned food.

This time, however, the response was considerably slower as news of the March 20 tornado competed for media attention with the start of the war in Iraq.

It took a few days, but then donations started coming in, said Carolyn Lipscomb, who along with her husband Hugh runs the warehouse.

"Granted, the first couple of days we didn't have many supplies coming in," Lipscomb said. But that trickle soon became "an overwhelming amount" of donated goods.

"We have just been tremendously blessed," she said.

The warehouse has five or six volunteers working daily, along with 10 inmates from the Mitchell County Correction Institute.

"They're a terrific bunch of guys," Lipscomb said of the prisoners.

So far, about 225 families have come to the warehouse once, and many of the families have made several trips, she reported. Some people are driving down from Worth County, where the tornado also caused severe damage and left two people dead. The predawn twister in Camilla killed five people, injured hundreds and damaged or destroyed up to 150 homes.

The warehouse initially dispensed items in immediate need: canned goods, cleaning supplies, toiletries, clothing and baby products.

Now, Lipscomb said, residents are starting to stock up on "things that they need to start setting up a household such as furniture, appliances, dishes and utensils."

Despite the hardships that some residents endured, the attitude of people coming to the warehouse for help is generally upbeat, Lipscomb said.

"Some people will be scarred for lifetime, but overall the attitude is very good," she said. "There is a certain amount of discouragement, but for the most part their outlook is pretty positive. Like one lady said, 'Life goes on. We just got to make the best of it.'"

Camilla, population 5,200, is located in southwestern Georgia.


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