published Saturday, April 30th, 2011

Social media brings aid to Walker

In the kitchen at the Walker County Civic Center, volunteers, from left, Neenah Miller, Sallie Lesperance, Deanie Bandy and Frances Cobb prepare meals for tornado victims and rescue workers on Friday.
Staff Photo by Tim Barber/Chattanooga Times Free Press
In the kitchen at the Walker County Civic Center, volunteers, from left, Neenah Miller, Sallie Lesperance, Deanie Bandy and Frances Cobb prepare meals for tornado victims and rescue workers on Friday. Staff Photo by Tim Barber/Chattanooga Times Free Press

Thanks in large part to social media, enough food poured into the Walker County Civic Center on Thursday and Friday to feed more than 1,000 emergency personnel and victims of Wednesday’s devastating storms.

“I just cannot say enough about social media,” said Carrie Fitzsimmons, director of tourism and public relations for the Walker County Chamber of Commerce. “It’s done wonders. It may have made our world smaller, but it’s made it more efficient.”

She said she and other Chamber staff members placed a notice for food and basic needs on their corporate and personal Facebook and Twitter sites, and supplies were brought in from as far away as Rome, Ga.

That allowed nearly 100 volunteers — one came from East Brainerd, some 30 miles away — to deliver hundreds of meals both days to emergency workers in Ringgold, Ga., and devastated neighborhoods such as Eagle Landing in Flintstone, Ga., and bottled water to Trenton, Ga.

About 30 homes were destroyed and 250 sustained damage in Walker County, county officials said. Most of the severe damage was confined to the northern section of the county, they said.

Glenda Jones, director of programs and events for the Chamber, said the EMS personnel were “beyond thankful” for the meals Thursday.

“It was the first thing they had all day,” she said.

Some of the food — meals of chicken and dressing — came from two Walker County Board of Education banquets that were canceled in the wake of Wednesday’s storms, according to chamber President Stephanie Snodgrass.

The educators wanted the meals to be donated where they were needed, she said.

Chamber staff members said many items donated at the Walker County Civic Center — which is an open shelter for displaced residents — will be given to Oakwood Baptist Church for distribution today and beyond at its Ministry of Hope warehouse on Industrial Drive in Chickamauga, Ga., and the Gateway campus on Cloud Springs Road.

However, Snodgrass said the Civic Center will be open from 9:30 a.m.-4 p.m. today and Sunday for people to drop off needed items such as food, clothes, toiletries and baby formula.

“We will be here seeing what the need is,” she said.

about Clint Cooper...

Clint Cooper is the faith editor and a staff writer for the Times Free Press Life section. He also has been an assistant sports editor and Metro staff writer for the newspaper. Prior to the merger between the Chattanooga Free Press and Chattanooga Times in 1999, he was sports news editor for the Chattanooga Free Press, where he was in charge of the day-to-day content of the section and the section’s design. Before becoming sports ...

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