Alabama Power volunteers, Alabama Power Foundation, helping Selma recover following devastating tornadoes

The tornados that tore through central Alabama and Georgia last month left a shocking path of destruction through historic Selma. But in the aftermath, the community is coming together to help those in need and begin the rebuilding.

Last week, members of the Alabama Power Service Organization (APSO), made up of employee volunteers, delivered an estimated $5,000 worth of supplies to help struggling families in the community. The donations, ranging from diapers and toiletries to cleaning supplies and clothes, were collected during a meeting of leaders from APSO chapters across the state.

“By the time the devastating storms hit the news, I had already received calls from every single APSO Chapter asking how they could help,” said Andrew Rhodes, APSO associate director.

“Right now we are focusing on collecting supplies and donations, but we are also planning to provide hands-on assistance once those needs have been identified,” Rhodes said.

The supplies are going to several nonprofit organizations that will help distribute them to families, based on need.

Alabama Power Service Organization volunteers deliver supplies to tornado-torn Selma. (Andrew Rhodes / Alabama News Center)

In addition, the Alabama Power Foundation is among the organizations providing support to the Black Belt Community Foundation (BBCF) “Communities Helping Communities” disaster relief fund to support restoration efforts.

BBCF created the fund in 2008 to be a “ready resource” when catastrophic natural disasters strike the foundation’s 12-county service area in Alabama’s Black Belt. The Jan. 12 tornado was the largest and most destructive disaster in the region since the fund was created, said Daron K. Harris, BBCF communications director.

As of last week, close to 170 individuals and organizations had contributed more than $126,000 to the Communities Helping Communities fund, Harris said.

“The Alabama Power Foundation has long been a friend of the Alabama Black Belt, stepping up to the plate in times of need,” said Felecia Lucky, BBCF president. “We saw this bedrock of support during the COVID-19 pandemic, and again today as Black Belt communities rebuild and recover from the tornado disaster of January 12.”

Lucky said the support from the Alabama Power Foundation is being combined with other resources for the first phase of relief operations, totaling $50,000, to provide critically needed supplies in Dallas, Greene, Hale, Marengo, Perry and Sumter counties. A second phase is slated for next month, and will provide resources to individuals, faith-based groups and community organizations. Click here to contribute to the Communities Helping Communities fund.

Broderick Smith, immediate past president of the Alabama Power Service Organization, and fellow volunteers with some of the supplies they delivered to Selma. (Andrew Rhodes / Alabama News Center)

APSO leaders are conferring with local officials and nonprofits, as well as the company’s own community relations representatives in the region, to determine additional ways to help. Leading the effort is Alabama Power’s Broderick Smith, a community relations specialist based in Montgomery. Smith, the immediate past president of APSO, was born and raised in Selma.