The Athens area knows the struggles of rebuilding after deadly tornadoes.
Athens Police Chief Floyd Johnson said that’s why the Police Department is inviting the public to gather Friday, May 24, at noon on the east side of the Limestone County Courthouse. There will be a short commemorative service for the tornado victims and first responders in Oklahoma.
"We have been hit by deadly tornadoes in Limestone County, and we got lucky (May 17) when an unexpected tornado hit but did little damage," Johnson said. "We’ve received an outpouring of support from other communities when we’ve been hit, and we want to do the same. Anyone in the community is welcome to take a moment from their day and join us in showing our support of their struggles in Oklahoma."
Daniel Ridinger, minister at Coxey Church of Christ west of Athens, will lead a prayer.
In addition, on Saturday, May 25, at the Athens Police Department at 951 E. Hobbs St., East Limestone resident Jennifer Pitts Adair will be collecting gift cards for Oklahoma’s tornado victims. Adair survived the EF 5 deadly tornado that hit Limestone County on April 27, 2011, when she huddled under blankets and pillows in her walk-in closet. When the twister passed, she and the foundation of her home were all that remained.
“This is something that's close to my heart, and I felt God pulling at me to do something when I saw those first images of the damage (in Oklahoma),” Adair said. “You may think a gift card doesn't seem like much for people who've lost everything, but that is the moment when it means the most. It's the moment that lets a survivor know that someone cares.”
Adair said victims can use the cards to buy clothes, toiletry items, toys or food.
She is working through Toomer’s for Tuscaloosa, an effort that started in Auburn to help rebuild in Tuscaloosa after the April 27, 2011, tornado outbreak. The group has become a grassroots effort to help in other devastated areas including Oklahoma. The gift cards will go to Journey Church in Norman, Okla., where a shelter has been established.
Adair’s goal is to raise $4,027 in gift card donations in memory of the deadly tornado outbreak in Alabama on 4/27.
“Let's show Oklahoma that Alabama hasn't forgotten the kindness the rest of the nation showed us two years ago,” she said.