Selma answers call for aid

Published 12:00 am Monday, September 12, 2005

The Selma Times-Journal

Just two days after former Selma resident Don Chamberlain arrived in his hometown seeking help for the people of Pineda Island on Mobile Bay who lost their homes and belongings in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, Selma responded in a big way.

After an article in the Tuesday, Sept. 6 edition of The Times-Journal featured Chamberlain’s account of the destruction on the island and the lack of response from government officials there, Selma business owners and citizens pulled their resources together and came to the rescue.

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Lowell Butts, owner of the Exxon Crossroads, had already filled one semi-truck trailer full of donated supplies and taken it to Jackson, Miss. to be distributed to hurricane victims.

He was in the process of filling the trailer for a return trip when he learned about the people of Pineda Island.

“I was about half-way through loading the truck (with donations) when the article came out. I called Don (Chamberlain) and told him we could get there by Friday and he said ‘we need the truck now’,” Butts said. “So we closed it up and left.”

Butts and the truck driver arrived in Pineda Island on Thursday afternoon. He said they were welcomed onto the island with open arms.

“We had a police escort into town,” Butts said. “When we arrived, they were down to two cases of water, so they were glad to see us.”

As Butts began unloading the water, clothing and canned goods donated by Selma citizens, the people of Pineda Island rushed out to help.

“They were kind of quiet when we first started unloading, but by the time we left they were all crying,” Butts said.

Sandy Backlund, a resident of Pineda Island, said the arrival of Butt’s truck was the first time the people of the island had received any kind of help.

“We all went shopping. We went though the shopping bags of clothes and food and just went shopping,” she said. “It was just so amazing. I just want to thank all the people of Selma who helped us.”

Blacklund, a teacher who said her home is now “a pile of rubble,” is currently trying to find a new place to live and put her life back to together.

Butts said several local businesses, including Taylor Made, Bush Hog, Cahaba Valley Mulch, Pepsi-Cola, Waters Trucking, Meadowcraft, Kelly’s Food, Phillies Cigar and Vaughan Trucking also provided support in the donation efforts to Pineda Island.

Charles Spence with Region’s Bank and Gary Mayton Motors also collaborated on donating a truck to Ed Donaldson, Pineda Island resident shrimp boat captain, whose only truck was lost during Hurricane Katrina.

“The reaction (from the island residents) was that of awe in the quality of the relief packages Selma brought to us,” Chamberlain said. “But I wasn’t surprised. I’m from Selma, so I knew this would happen.”