Hale Co. community, students unite for tornado cleanup effort

Published: Jan. 16, 2023 at 5:29 PM CST
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HALE CO., Ala. (WBRC) - In Hale County, people from all walks of life came together and put in practice what it means to serve on this Martin Luther King Jr. holiday.

The community joined to help clean up a property struck hard by last week’s tornado. You name them, they were here. High school students, football players, a coach and retirees pitched in to give Tom Paige a helping hand.

The day started with volunteers intentionally setting fires to burn broken trees, cars clobbered beyond repair and just about anything else laid waste by last week’s tornado, including a few mobile homes.

Winston Johnson brought his football team from Greensboro High School to tackle a heavy duty job.

“So MLK Day was a great day to spawn that community service and glad we got to something that was a little more meaningful than picking up trash,” said coach Johnson.

Linebacker Marlin Lewis says he didn’t want to be anywhere else, not in bed on a school holiday, not hanging out with friends, but here to get his hands dirty for a stranger.

“I feel like you would want them to give back to you if you were in their situation and come together as one community,” said Lewis.

Haylee Rawley of Southern Academy said, “When I woke up this morning I was definitely tired but I felt like this was something all of us could do,” said Rawley.

Paige marveled at the number of volunteers who showed up and did all they could to sweep away a bad memory of riding out the storm in his hallway at home.

“It’s an experience I don’t want to experience again,” said property owner Paige.

Service in action, a community came together as one.

“Man, this is a great here. They said people were coming, churches coming. I never imagined this,” said Paige.

Of the all of the locations struck by last week’s tornado, Hale County EMA officials say Paige’s property sustained the worse damage.

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