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Columbiana residents help namesakes from the South

Extensive damage to homes is being evaluated in Columbiana, Alabama, which Mayor David Mitchell said was among the hardest hit after a tornado tore through the area. (Submitted photo)

COLUMBIANA — After a series of tornadoes tore through parts of Shelby County, Alabama on March 26, resident Gregg Sayers in Columbiana reached out through Facebook asking if local residents could help out neighbors. Nicole Ice, director on the Chamber of Commerce, took action and began organizing a way to give back.

“I saw it and said, I can do this, I can help you organize this and I immediately researched,” Ice said.

Ice explained that Columbiana, Alabama, is a small town of 5,000 people and the income tends to range from middle to low. The income in the area poses an issue because FEMA will not assist an area until the damage meets a threshold. If property values and destroyed belongings are declared below a value threshold, Columbiana, Ala., may not receive any assistance.

Mayor David Mitchell said that various churches, charitable organizations and local emergency personnel are doing magnificent work.

“Initial response by local governments and our utilities to clear roads and restore services to communities was excellent. The outpouring of volunteers and donations to assist victims has been generous and heart warming,” Mitchell said.

From Ohio, Ice is considering multiple ways to help, these include filling a U-haul with needed supplies and going to Columbiana, Ala., to help rebuild homes, setting up an Amazon wish list and establishing a “Columbiana Strong” blackberry themed cider at Sundog Cellars, which Ice co-owns.

Mitchell has a goal to create a coalition that will unify ideas and coordinate an organized effort to place emphasis on the main needs of the community, especially residents living in a mobile home park just outside the Alabama town’s limits that were hardest hit and sustained the most damage.

“They attend our schools and churches and there has been an outpouring of support from the community to help them,” Mitchell voiced.

At the moment, donations can be made via Venmo @fbCColumbiana.

Checks can be sent to First Baptist Church, 208 N. Main St., Columbiana Ala., 35051; label as “Benevolence Fund.”

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