NORTHPORT, AL – Volunteers in red and yellow shirts rushed from one mutilated mobile home to another on Saturday as more than 200 people gathered at Willowbrook Trailer Park to help with clean-up efforts following the devastating flooding there has a week.
The effort was organized by Highland Church, with the Red Cross and Mormon Helping Hands of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The group had their work cut out for them on Saturday, with volunteers helping residents scavenge what they could from their homes or dig up the thick layer of sand and mud now covering much of the trailer park after the withdrawal flood waters.
PHOTOS: Flood causes major damage to Northport Trailer Park
“The bottom line is that we are not coming to save the day, we are coming to help them with what they choose to get rid of,” said Misty Moon, Executive Director of the Red Cross in Tuscaloosa.
She then said more than 100 people had been affected by the flooding and that 28 were currently staying at the Northport Baptist Church shelter. However, many stayed behind to protect their belongings, which was part of the motivation for the coordinated clean-up day.
While the large group of volunteers were no doubt up to the task of cleaning up the mess, the order was sizable. Throughout the park, entire porches were torn from mobile homes and debris was still widely scattered on Saturday morning. Some trailers are a total loss after sustaining significant damage because their frames are tilted and bent.
Councilor for District 2 Woodrow Washington II – a retired firefighter – told Patch he received calls and performed water rescues when the flooding started in Willowbrook.
City of Northport Friday issued an official statement on the situation in Willowbrook, saying the city will allow temporary occupancy of homes located in the FEMA Floodway and on the edge of flooding in the mobile home park.
“Owners and tenants will receive notice of this allowance for temporary occupancy in order to comply with the regulations in force,” the statement said. “The City of Northport will actively seek local, state and federal assistance with tenant relocation and property acquisition to mitigate the risk of flooding.
In addition, the demographics of the park have also been another barrier for those participating in the relief effort. Moon said a large portion of those affected did not speak English as their mother tongue, making communication difficult. Furthermore, she explained that many residents may be afraid to seek help from the authorities because of their undocumented immigrant status.
“We don’t care if you’re legal,” Moon said. “We will help you anyway. We want to make sure that we get this message out. We have tons of translators here who have been extremely helpful. Most of them speak Spanish and a lot of them speak Indian so this has been very helpful.”
As locals sift through the damage and pick up the pieces of their lives, Moon said more help is on the way. High socks for hope – a non-profit organization started by the former Crimson Tide pitcher David robertson specializing in disaster relief.
“High Socks for Hope is going to completely provide everyone with new furniture, so we encourage everyone to get rid of everything,” she said.
Moon went on to say that those who have suffered flood damage or in need can call the Red Cross at (205) 523-5448, which is a number reserved for this specific disaster.
“We can do the reception and we want to make sure that they are housed, that they have food and essentials, and then we work with other organizations in the community to provide them with further assistance.” , she said.
As Patch previously reported, free showers, and a laundry service are also available at Northport Baptist Church for those affected by flooding from Tropical Storm Claudette.
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