CULLMAN, Ala. – Fifty-five days after an EF-2 tornado wiped out three homes in Town Creek, Alabama taking the lives of two, leaving four others severely injured in the care of three different hospitals, state and local legislators gathered at Town Creek City Hall to present cash donations and scholarships raised on behalf of these families for shelter, medical bills and other disaster relief needs.
In response to the storm’s devastating effects, Town Creek Police Chief Jerry Garrett created a GoFundMe account to help support the needs of these three families. An outpouring of support came in and the account raised more than $46,000 to be given to the families through a Good Samaritan account set up at Independent Bank in Courtland. The fund was set up for Wayne and Rhonda Lovett, Marcus Johnson and Landen Godsey.
Find the fund at www.gofundme.com/f/lovettjohnsongodsey-disaster-relief.
Sen. Garlan Gudger, Jr., R-Cullman also stepped in to support these families, recalling what he had experienced in 2011 when an EF-4 tornado tore through his hometown of Cullman, as well as other parts of north Alabama. He teamed up with other state and local legislators to seek assistance from the State, local foundations and institutions of higher education. The Alabama Manufacturing Foundation responded with two grant donations for shelter needs for Marcus Johnson and Wayne and Rhonda Lovett. Wallace State Community College and the University of Alabama also stepped up and offered scholarships for Landen Godsey.
In attendance at the presentation, along with Chief Garrett and Senator Gudger, were Rep. Proncey Robertson, R- Mount Hope; Lawrence County Commissioner Bobbly Burch; Lawrence County Commissioner Jesse Byrd; Town Creek Mayor Mike Parker; Dana Charles, designee to the TVA in lieu of taxes committee; Annie Collier (Landen’s grandmother and (Landen’s mom) Keisha’s mother); Chris, Cheay, and Bella Godsey (uncle, aunt and cousin to Landen, brother of (Landen’s dad) Chase Godsey); Chad Sims (son-in-law to Wayne and Rhonda Lovett); and Kimberly Hicks (cousin to Marcus Johnson).
Gudger announced the combined efforts of the GoFundMe account, the Alabama Manufacturing Association grants and today’s value of scholarships from Wallace State Community College and the University of Alabama system brought the total raised to more than $77,000.
“This is the effect of a collective group of Alabamians, working together for the good of others that have experienced a catastrophe,” Gudger said to the crowd. “No one person accomplished this on their own, but from like-minded, caring people from all over the state pulling together to make this become a reality.”
Each family shared with the attendees how their loved ones are recovering.
Annie Collier described how Landen is now having muscular movement they were not seeing a week ago. He is now able to lift his leg and wave his left arm. He is also recognizing family members and acknowledging who they are. Landen will continue to undergo treatment and intensive rehabilitation at Children’s of Alabama in Birmingham.
Kimberly Hicks spoke of how her cousin, Marcus Johnson, spoke for the first time since Dec. 16 and said doctors are now considering removal of his breathing tube, this after she said he flatlined twice over the last month and a half.
Chad Sims described his family’s concern and how Wayne Lovett was touch-and-go two weeks ago. With emotion, he shared that today Wayne is walking himself to use the bathroom on his own. Rhonda is now receiving rehab treatments at her son’s home.
Each of the families expressed its gratitude for the state and local elected officials and leaders in the room.
“Thank you for all you have done,” said Chris Godsey, “for all the help and the clean-up efforts, for the kind donations you gave for all the families. You didn’t have to do any of it, but you did.”