Last Wednesday, July 19, around 12:30 p.m., an EF-3 tornado hit the Twin Counties, affecting dozens of homes, families, and businesses, including the Pfizer plant.
Over the last few days, our community has demonstrated resolve and unity. In the last week several notable individuals have visited the Twin Counties to see the damage and to pledge assistance. Among those who have visited are Pfizer CEO, Dr. Albert Bourla, who committed to paying workers while the plant is repaired. He also pledged donations from the Pfizer Foundation to the United Way Tar River Region and the American Red Cross North Carolina Chapter.
Governor Roy Cooper also visited the area. During his visit he stated that the assessment of the damage would take place this week so that the process for getting state and federal aid could begin.
United Way Tar River Region has established a fund to help those in need. United Way Tar River Region’s Executive Director Ginny Mohrbutter encourages donations of any size; “No donation is too small or too big. They would love to get donations from anyone in the community who wants to support the recovery.”
Before they can distribute funds, they must collect funds. The Tornado Recovery Fund focuses on three key areas that are essential to the recovery process: debris and residential clean-up support, supporting financial and basic needs at minimum, and housing supports for both long-term and short-term housing needs through housing and repairs.
Those looking to help can donate to the fund here. You can also drop off or mail a check to their office (2501 Sunset Ave. Rocky Mount, 27804). Be sure to indicate that your donation is for the tornado recovery fund.
United Way is also connecting volunteers with those in need. Call or email at email@example.com, give your name, your availability, and mention any equipment you have, and they will link you with community members.
The fund is the easiest and most effective way to give help, according to Mohrbutter, but United Way is partnering with the Salvation Army for physical items. Donations can be given at three locations: the Salvation Army at 134 River Oaks Drive in Tarboro, the resale store in Rocky Mount at 2153 Lawrence Cir. and the headquarters at 1000 Hunter Hill Rd. in Rocky Mount.
They are currently looking for non-perishable food items, boxed goods, bottled water, paper goods, and gently used appliances. Drop them off at any of the three locations and make a note that it is for tornado recovery.
In addition to the work United Way is doing, the city of Rocky Mount is also helping those in need in two specific ways. They may be able to provide home repair assistance through one of their various programs. Contact Alvina Jenkins at 252-972-1100 for more information.
The city can provide utility relief for those affected by the storm. Call 252-972-1250 to learn more.
The American Red Cross North Carolina Chapter can help with immediate shelter for those who can’t rehouse with a family member or friend. Call 252-977-1720 for more information.
Gam-Med is also providing free medical care for Pfizer employees impacted by the tornado through the end of July.
While many people are looking to help, there could also be some aiming to take advantage of others amidst the tragedy. RMPD shared this warning from the NC DOJ to help people cautiously protect themselves.
Follow United Way on Facebook and visit their website for any updates on ways you can support those affected by the tornado. We will also share any updates about how to get involved over the coming weeks and months.