Enterprise Mayor takes message of hope to tornado-ravaged Lee County

Mayor William E. Cooper presents Lee County Jay Jones with a small replica of the Boll Weevil Monument to remind the people of Lee County that they can bounce back from adversity. From left are Denise Warren, Area Coordinator, ACS Disaster Response Ministry and Donated Goods Warehouse co-manager; Enterprise Police Chief T.D. Jones; Chaplain Tony Dickey, Disaster and Victim Services International; Jones; Enterprise Acting Public Works Director Shannon Roberts; Cooper; Enterprise Communications Director Jason Wright; Coffee County Emergency Management Agency Director James Brown; and ACS Conference Services Leader, Pastor Ray Elsberry. (Photo: Kay Kirkland)
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LEE COUNTY, Ala. (WTVY) -- Mayor William E. Cooper took a message of hope to Lee County Tuesday when he delivered a semi-trailer load of much-needed supplies to the people of the tornado-ravaged area.

Cooper and members of the Enterprise Police and Public Works Departments and Administration took about $100,000 worth of items such as detergent, household cleaning supplies, baby food, crackers, diapers and water to help people in the Beauregard area. The unincorporated community was one of the hardest hit by an F4 tornado that killed 23 people and destroyed or damaged about 600 homes in the county.

“Keep the faith,” Cooper advised. “We know the adversity, the heartache and the pain they (tornado victims) have had to endure, because we have been through it.” Cooper referred to the March 1, 2007 deadly tornado that killed eight Enterprise High School students and an elderly resident, and destroyed or damaged about 800 homes and buildings.

“We wanted to do this (goods collection) to help people get through this crisis and get back on their feet,” the Mayor said. “It’s a dark time for them now but there will be a brighter day.”

The Enterprise entourage met Lee County Sheriff Jay Jones at the Long-Term Donated Goods Warehouse in Opelika, which is being staffed by leaders of the Adventist Community Services Disaster Response Ministry, local disaster response volunteers and volunteers from AmeriCorps National Civilian Community Corps, Southern Region.

The long-term warehouse opened Monday. Denise Warren, donated goods co-manager, said several other emergency response and recovery agencies will also be operating out of the warehouse for the foreseeable future.
The volunteers and the Sheriff told Enterprise officials they were surprised and impressed by the magnitude of the Enterprise donation, which took well over an hour to be unloaded by Department of Public Works personnel.

“Words cannot express the thanks that we have for this,” Jones said. “It’s going to be a long recovery. I’m sure the folks in Enterprise understand that, and that’s why this donation is so important. We had so much immediately after the storms came through, which was wonderful and we appreciate that greatly. But in the weeks and months ahead, we are going to continue to need that support.”

Jones said many people left homeless are still in shelters. Many of those are multi-child families, he said, so the supplies for babies and young children are especially appreciated. Other families, whose homes were damaged, whether major or minor, are still trying to salvage possessions and clean them, so the cleaning supplies and detergent are much needed.

“Caring about others – I think that’s the message that we got today,” Jones said. “These are physical things and are obviously items of importance to the people of Lee County to help in their recovery, but it goes way beyond that, to people who don’t live in this area and don’t know people here, but they are willing to help. I think it goes to show what kind of people live in Enterprise.”

Cooper presented a small replica of the Boll Weevil Monument, the world-famous landmark in downtown Enterprise, to Jones and explained the message of “triumph over adversity” that the monument stands for. The mayor said Enterprise triumphed over the economic destruction brought on by the boll weevil 100 years ago, and came through the dark days left behind by the deadly 2007 tornado.

“You can too,” he told Jones.

A semi-trailer donated for use by Sessions Peanut Company was set up in the Wal-Mart parking lot March 15-17. About 60 city personnel and local volunteers staffed the site throughout the weekend and accepted cash donations.
“It warms our hearts to know that we all came together to help others. Enterprise is united by a big heart,” Mayor Cooper said.

Enterprise Department of Public Works employees unloading trailer load of goods from Enterprise to help Lee County tornado victims.
Enterprise Department of Public Works employees unloading trailer load of goods from Enterprise to help Lee County tornado victims.