Tornado Recovery Continues in Hard-Hit Alabama
From: Home Care Magazine
CORDOVA, Ala. — Almost a month after a string of storms devastated wide swaths of the southern United States, Ken Glover, RPH, quietly opened the doors of a large trailer and filled prescriptions for grateful patients. The sturdy 100-year-old building that once housed Glover Drug in Cordova, Ala., was no more, heavily damaged by two tornadoes on April 27.
In addition to the operation in Cordova (population 2,400), Glover has two other pharmacy/home care locations in Jasper, Ala., and one in Dora. All four sites had power knocked out after the first storm hit at the crack of dawn, essentially rendering backup protocols useless.
“We have a plan in place for disasters such as fires, tornadoes and floods,” lamented Glover. “But this plan did not encompass total destruction within a 30- to 40-mile radius, with all of our locations knocked out at one time.”
After learning of the first tornado, Glover sent a crew to Cordova to check the damage. When he heard about the destruction, he went to the store to retrieve what he could.
“There were leaks, roof damage and the window was blown out,” said Glover. “All the buildings around us were crumbled. I was able to get our computer system, prescription records and the controlled drugs because we did not know what kind of security would be available.”
After securing the window with plywood, Glover initially thought he had a “fixable situation.” Little did he know another tornado would strike the same location later that day. After returning to his Dora store, Glover sent his crew home as the weather deteriorated. He visited a nursing home under heavy rains to deliver medicine to a patient, then wound his way back to Cordova to retrieve a printer.
On the way back to his car at about 4:40 p.m., the alarm warning went off. “Another tornado had been spotted and was on a direct path to where I was,” reported Glover. “I jumped in my car and drove about eight miles home. I walked out on my back porch with my daughter, and we watched the tornado as it came over the city of Cordova.”
Upon returning to the site after the second tornado, Glover realized that the “fixable situation” wasn’t one.
“Total destruction,” said Glover. “I have never seen anything like it in my whole life. Ten buildings sitting right where I had parked my car at 4:40 were gone. At that point, probably three-quarters of Alabama was without power.”
Running off a generator at the Dora location, Glover Drug was the only drug store for miles, and people were coming from everywhere for help, Glover said. Despite the lack of regular phones and spotty cell coverage, Jennifer Weathers, RN, the provider’s DMEPOS coordinator, said the company was able to get the word out.
“Cell service was terrible, but we were able to use Facebook, Twitter and text messaging,” said Weathers. “We could get online on our phones with Facebook apps. We have a Facebook fan page, so we were able to communicate with customers using that. That was exciting, because we were able to ease their minds that we had all their supplies here at the Dora store. We opened the Dora store two days after the storm.”
As for the Cordova operation, Glover found a temporary trailer in Memphis, got it back to Alabama and re-opened his doors just last week.
“There was no building for rent, because every one had been destroyed,” Glover said. “We were one of the first downtown businesses to open, and it was nice to see familiar faces. I now have a plan on my desk of what the new permanent fixture will look like, and we are looking in that direction.”
Mike Hamilton, executive director of the Alabama Durable Medical Equipment Association, continues to work with affected providers, and the stories of hardship are piling up. “I know of a provider who had all four of his locations hit in one day,” said Hamilton. “We had one member with a 45,000-sq.-ft. warehouse with roll-up garage doors on both ends. The front door got splintered, and pieces of the door took all of the equipment in the building and shoved it out the back door.”
Atlanta-based Friends of Disabled Adults and Children is providing wheelchairs and other medical equipment to tornado victims in Tuscaloosa, Ala. The equipment will be distributed by ReMedy, a Birmingham-based recycler of medical items. FODAC is also continuing to collect and distribute equipment to other affected states. In Georgia, the company has set up several drop-off sites in the Atlanta area. For more information, see the FODAC website or contact email@example.com.
You can also donate to any disaster relief efforts, such as the floods, wildfires and storms experienced throughout the country this year, through the American Red Cross Disaster Relief fund or the Salvation Army’s disaster response.