Secret Millionaire Diary: Day 1—Shock and Devastation

Secret Millionaire Diary: Day 1—Shock and Devastation

Emily is the winner of our LearnVest "Secret Millionaire" contest (which you can read about here). She will sharing her experience with you through next Thursday, when she reveals who will get her prize money.

It’s the first day of the Secret Millionaire contest, and the timing could never have been better.

Just last Wednesday our little rural area in northwest Georgia was devastated by the longest running tornado on the ground in U.S. history. The death toll continues to rise and many people have missing family members, or have lost all of their worldly possessions due to this horrible EF-4 tornado. The National Guard has sent out search teams to look for missing residents within the rubble. The Red Cross has triage centers set up to treat injured residents and shelters for people who are now homeless. Almost a week later the Red Cross is still housing 80+ families.

My family was very lucky to be in small area of the region that was for the most part sheltered from the storm. All of our neighboring cities took a hard hit, and most schools and business have been out of operation. Our county will resume school tomorrow, but other counties will be forced to rebuild their schools. Ringgold, GA (better known as the hometown of American Idol star Lauren Alaina, who was brought to tears by the destruction) is about fifteen minutes north of where I live, and the whole town is in complete shambles. All of the roads are blocked, including the interstate, to everyone except emergency personnel. Friday morning the National Guard bused in families to survey their losses. The view was devastating.

Friday after the storm I immediately wanted to try to help the tornado victims. The area was in such shambles that the city deemed the roads unsafe for volunteers. I checked in with our local mission to see what I could do to help. Although most of our city residents were not affected, the areas of mass destruction were so close to our town that the Red Cross and the United Way are referring Ringgold residents to our county food banks and relief resources. We will continue to serve victims until the food banks in Ringgold are rebuilt. This is putting a huge strain on the budget of our mission, who will be serving the tornado victim in addition to the 4,400+ families they already serve each year.

The need will extend far beyond the immediate assistance that the Red Cross and relief programs can offer. The need will grow in coming weeks as families move from shelters, back in to their temporary homes and need to restock their life. The tornado hit an area that was already struggling immensely economically, and that’s sure to make the recovery process even harder for victims.

This recent disaster has made me even more thankful that I was chosen to participate in the Secret Millionaire program, but it’s also making my job of deciding how to distribute funds even harder. This week is sure to be an eye opening experience.

Image credit: kunarion on Flickr


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