Straightening Out the Priorities

As of Wednesday afternoon, the Tennessee Emergency Management Agency reports 31 confirmed fatalities related to the deadly storms, which marched across the state from Memphis through Middle Tennessee on Tuesday night. More than 149 people have been reported as being injured and one person is presumed missing. Those totals may be revised as TEMA collects information from around the state.

Mz. Mia, who has kinfolk in Macon County, went to survey some of the damage yesterday – and said it was the damnedest and most depressing thing she’d ever seen.

Folks, it’s bad and it’s in your backyard

In Shelby County, a wall collapsed on Sears Building in Hickory Ridge Mall in Rockford Subdivision and the storm released more than 120,000 lbs. of anhydrous ammonia when a tank was ruptured at the Hardy Bottling Co. on East Rains. This release to the atmosphere poses no risk to the public.

The storm caused severe crashes west of Jackson, Tenn., on Interstate 40. These crashes, which involved more than 25 tractor-trailers, temporarily closed the highway in both directions.

At Union University in Madison Co., students took shelter in dormitory bathrooms as a tornado reduced the buildings to rubble around them. 16 students were temporarily trapped in the girls’ dormitory. Tim Ellsworth, the school’s news director, said about 50 students were taken to a hospital, nine of them with injuries that were classified as serious.

A fire from a natural gas pipeline at the Columbia Gulf Transmission Co. facility in Hartsville, Tenn., was highly visible for much of the night. The fire, which has now burned out, reports indicated flames at one time reaching as high as 400 to 500 feet into the air due to the pressurized nature of the long-distance transmission pipeline.

In Sumner County, an 11-month-old baby was found alive 250 yards away from his deceased mother. Rescuers were doing grid searches walking back and forth, looking for survivors when they found the baby, according to Ken Weidner with Sumner County Emergency Services.

“It was almost like he was in a little bit of a shocked state. As they were walking through the field holding the child close, he started responding more. And when they made the road, everybody was around and he started crying more. One of the guys took his shirt off and wrapped it around him,” he said.

Meanwhile, the Tennessee Highway Patrol reported looting in hard-hit Macon County, where 12 people died, WSMV reported.

Starting to get the picture yet?

The politicians are now doing their thing, which amounts to a whole lot of nothing. President Bush has phoned in his prayers and promises. John Kerry wasted no time turning the tragedy into an “Al Gore Prophecy” realized.

Meanwhile, Memphis blogger Monkeyfister is sending out a distress call and asking the progressive blogosphere for actual help.

Whilst we’re waiting for George’s Promised Prayers to roll in, down here in the Tornado-Stricken Mid-South, I might recommend some DIRECT HUMAN INTERACTION.

This Is My Best First Start To Help My Region.

As the area affected is so broad and detached, and everyone in the Country was distracted by politics last night, as yet, there is no central assistance hub set-up. So, at the link, above, you’ll find the two agencies with the broadest radius to help the area right now. Both take DIRECT donations.

I am going to list those agencies for you but I recommend you go read Monkeyfister. (Don’t worry Conservatives. Your internet browser will not self-destruct.)

I’m also going to request assistance from all sides. I don’t care where you stand, who you support or what you believe – the bottom line is that these are fellow Tennesseans in need.

The agencies are:

American Red Cross
Mid-South Chapter
1400 Central Avenue
Memphis, TN 38104

United Way of the Mid-South
phone in a donation at (901) 433-4300.

The Tennessean also has a list of ways you can help.

So, go forth and pass this on to your hairdresser, your teacher, your neighbor or your pastor – and do your “Baptist People Unite” thing.  Just don’t take too long about it.


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