A wave of tornadoes made their way across the southeastern United States on Thursday, April 28th. The resulting devastation is still being quantified; but presently the death toll is at 360 and over a million people were left without power in the region. It will be months before we know how much property damage was suffered. The National Weather Service confirmed at least 137 tornadoes were responsible for the damage across the Deep South.
Alabama was hit the hardest causing its Governor Robert Bentley to declare a state of emergency and authorize 1,400 Alabama National Guardsmen to assist with rescue efforts. The President and First Lady were on the ground by Friday to assess the damage and to console those who fell victim to the storms.
President Obama assured those affected that “the federal government will do everything we can to help you recover, and we will stand with you as you rebuild.”
The AT&T corporation has also made a commitment to helping the communities rebuild. On Thursday, in record response time AT&T announced it would deploy members of its Network Disaster Recovery team to the state. AT&T’s Network Disaster Recovery (NDR) combines network infrastructure and support trailers, recovery engineering software applications and a response team with both full-time and volunteer members from AT&T.
Fred McCallum, state president, AT&T Alabama shared that, “Our repair crews have been working 24/7 to restore communications services and we will continue to do so until service is back up and running for all customers.”
To further help residents and businesses in Tuscaloosa and Huntsville, AT&T also deployed a mobile office on wheels in which the public can charge phones and conduct business. At these locations phone banks are available to all residents without phone service to call friends and relatives to check in.
In addition to ensuring residents are able to stay in communication with the rest of the world while trying to rebuild their lives AT&T has gone a few steps further. In an announcement on Friday, Randall Stephenson, AT&T chairman and chief announced a $500,000 contribution commitment to help those impacted by recent tornadoes and severe storms in southern states.
The announcement was made at AT&T’s annual meeting of stockholders in Little Rock.
“Our thoughts are with the families and communities who have been affected by these devastating storms,” said Stephenson. “Our hope is that this contribution will add to the efforts of other organizations and individuals to help people rebuild.”
Stephenson announced an additional $100,000 was being donated to the American Red Cross Disaster Relief to support storm relief efforts across Arkansas specifically.
The funds will be used by Red Cross disaster workers to provide food, shelter, emotional assistance and basic supplies to individuals and families affected by recent storms and tornadoes.
“We are incredibly grateful for AT&T’s generous donation and concern for the recovery of those affected by this series of devastating weather. We rely on the generosity of the public and our corporate partners such as AT&T to fund our mission of providing immediate disaster relief,”
said Candace A. Carey, American Red Cross Regional CEO.