Atmore pays back, forward

Published 9:56 am Wednesday, June 15, 2011

When Atmore residents and officials joined together this spring to help Alabama residents affected by the devastating April 27 tornadoes, they were in many ways paying back for the help received in past hurricanes — and for what we could receive in the future as well.

Mayor Howard Shell on Monday relayed the messages from two north Alabama officials who were appreciative of the assistance.

“As the old story goes, what goes around comes around is true,” Mayor Kenneth Nail of Hanceville wrote.

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As it happens, Nail was a police officer for the City of Cullman in 2004, when Hurricane Ivan hit Escambia County, and he was deployed to our area.

“I just wanted to thank you for the generators you loaned us after the storm to help with cleanup,” Nail wrote to Shell in May. “If I can ever help you in any way, please do not hesitate to call.”

The city received a similar message from the City of Cullman, where Mayor Max A. Townson wrote of his appreciation for Atmore residents and officials’ help.

“Your citizens, churches and other organizations provided many supplies that our citizens needed immediately after the storm,” Townson wrote. “Our relief organizations used these supplies to help storm victims and others who were dealing with power outages and other storm-related difficulties.”

Those thanks are much appreciated — and they speak to the kind of people that inhabit all of Alabama, people who are willing to step up and help neighbors, no matter where they live.

Last weekend I was privileged to hear a panel discussion of journalists who covered the April 27 tornadoes in Tuscaloosa and other cities. One photojournalist, Joe Songer of the Birmingham News, noted that the aid he saw after the tornadoes was much different than the attitude in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina.

Rather than place blame or toss responsibilities to other agencies, the people of those cities and residents across Alabama have stepped up to help each other, whether it has been Auburn fans banding together to help their rival Crimson Tide or city officials loaning generators and other equipment.

We should be proud to have been a part of the effort — and the continuing efforts. As Mayor Nail said, “What goes around comes around.”

We hope we won’t need aid anytime soon, but we know that if we do, a helping hand isn’t far away.

Kerry Whipple Bean is publisher of The Atmore Advance. She can be reached at 251-368-2123 or by e-mail at