Crossroads resident and Red Cross respond to tornado disaster
By BY DIANNA WRAY
April 29, 2011 at 5:02 p.m.
Updated April 28, 2011 at 11:29 p.m.
After learning that tornadoes had swept through the South earlier this week, P.W. Covington admits his first thought was about the trip he was about to make to a writer's workshop in Bristol, Va.
"I thought, 'Oh great, now I have to drive through that mess,'" Covington said. Then he started thinking about ways he could help.
Covington, a writer and veteran affairs activist, is no stranger to this kind of disaster. Serving in the military, he went to Haiti after it was devastated by a 1992 hurricane. He served in Somalia and helped out in the wake of Hurricane Andrew.
He was in the Crossroads during the 1998 flood.
He knows what the towns torn apart by tornadoes will be facing, he said.
Next week Covington will drive through some of the hardest hit areas, including Tuscaloosa, Ala.
"I'll be driving right through there. I'd feel terrible if I didn't help," Covington said.
When Covington starts his trip on Monday, he plans to leave with his Toyota hatchback packed with the kinds of supplies people need - mainly hygiene supplies like soap, shaving cream, disposable razors, feminine hygiene products and socks.
"I'm making this trip anyway, and the gas will cost the same whether I've got a full car or not, so this way I can help," he said.
He said he'll make a point of stopping in some of the smaller towns, since these communities can be overlooked in the first rush to give aid.
Covington said he doesn't have specific plans for where he'll deliver the supplies, though he plans to post updates, photos and videos to the Facebook page connected to his book, "Like the Prayers of an Infidel."
The Crossroads branch of the American Red Cross is also accepting donations on behalf of the tornado victims. Linda May, emergency services director for the chapter, said they are accepting donations.
The members of some Texas chapters of Red Cross have been dispatched to the area, but May said there are no current plans to send anyone from the Crossroads.
"Everyone is on standby for right now. It's a minute-by-minute thing," May said.
She said they've already received a number of calls from Crossroads residents trying to contact friends and relatives in the stricken area. It's a bad situation, May said.
"It's the worst disaster they've ever had in that part of the country," she said.