Communities Coming Together
Community is defined a couple of different ways. The first definition is, ďa group of people living in the same place or having a particular characteristic in common.Ē This is a pretty basic and literal definition. The second definition is, ďa feeling of fellowship with others, as a result of sharing common attitudes, interests and goals.Ē This definition gets more specific and is something that has been shown in the communities all around us the past several weeks.
Areawide Media covers a very broad area with all of our products combined. We have covered the severe flooding that affected much of our neighbors in Howell County and in Oregon County, destroyed the small town of Thomasville. In Arkansas, though counties in our area were hit hard by the flooding and are left with repairs to be made and issues to be resolved, the biggest concern is Sharp Countyís neighbors, Randolph County...Pocahontas.
Pocahontas has made national news for the severity of the damage caused by the flooding in late April/early May. Businesses, schools and individuals from Sharp, Fulton and Izard Counties have all come together and organized donations to be accepted and delivered to the shelter established in Pocahontas.
Pocahontas, though not a normal coverage area for us, is actually closer in distance to my home. Some Saturday mornings when needing to make a Walmart run, Pocahontas is only 5 to 10 minutes farther from my normal drive to Thayer. I have close friends and family that call Pocahontas home. When attending college at Williams Baptist College, I became very familiar with the town that I drove through nearly every weekend, twice a weekend. It is a place I have seen change over the years, and enjoyed visiting.
Needless to say, when our area began to show support for the flood victims, I was very pleased to see the generosity people were showing. I was encouraged to volunteer with a friend last week, and though when we arrived they had plenty of people working, we were able to find ways to help. Through the donations of the Sharp County community, in a bank account set up at First Community Bank, we delivered gift cards for local realtor, Jana Caldwell, to distribute; along with gift certificates from local hardware store, Haleyís Lumber and Metal, LLC.
The devastation to the homes and businesses is massive. Some of the establishments didnít have flood insurance, because honestly, they probably thought they would never need it. Now, they are being faced with so many decisions. Do I rebuild? Do I just buy a new home? Where am I going to stay until I figure something out? I canít imagine being displaced like this. It is a heartbreaking situation, but luckily there are people in place to help.
The American Red Cross has set up the shelter in the old Randolph County Nursing Home, located behind the BRAD building. Donations are rolling in from generous givers while volunteers wash laundry, or whatever needs to be done for the people who have nowhere to go. Though the Red Cross is an amazing organization that helps so much in times of disaster, the local ministerial alliance is also doing whatever they can to help the residents of Pocahontas, and to make sure donations stay local. First Assembly of Godís Pastor, Terry Miller, is also the leader of the ministerial alliance and can be contacted at 870-892-0700.
The people of Thomasville are beginning to assess damages done to homes, businesses and vacation homes. The town sits right on the banks of Eleven Point River, and is a peaceful and historical community in Oregon County. In a story by our reporter, Renee Janes, she said there are only two homes there that were not damaged or destroyed by the flood. Even though Thomasville isnít a large town, the destruction is equally as saddening as people lost their homes. The local cafe in town had up to seven feet of standing water in their building at one time.
But again, the community is rallying to help in whatever ways they can. Immediately following the flood, meetings were held and people began bringing in supplies to assist with cleanup of the homes. One example of rallying the troops, an ATV/4-wheeler racing event will be held Saturday, May 20 at the Alton Piney Park to raise funds for the flood victims.
First Baptist Church of Thomasville has set up at fund at the Alton Bank. Monetary donations may be left at the Alton Bank or credit/debit card donations may be made by calling the Alton Bank at 417-778-7211. Checks should be made out to the Thomasville Relief Fund and can be mailed to Alton Bank, P.O. Box 7, Alton, MO 65606.
Iíve always been such a sap when it comes to Oregon County, especially my hometown. There is no place like home, and no place Iíd rather be. When I began working at Areawide Media, I soon felt that same passion for the communities we serve. The kindness, generosity and leadership of the people here in our area of the Ozarks truly makes it the greatest place to live.
Disasters and tragedy happen every day. Standing together and helping each other is the greatest thing our neighboring communities can do for each other during the hard times. That is exactly what I have seen in the past few weeks and I couldnít be more proud of the place I live and work in. In a world so full of hate, all I have seen for the past few weeks, despite the sadness of the destruction, is good in people; from children to adults.