Alpharetta resident Susan O'Dwyer isn't waiting to help out people in Tuscaloosa, AL, whose homes and lives were wrecked by a tornado. She's loading up a cargo truck and taking it to Alabama on Saturday morning.
"I'm a mom of an Alabama student who lived through the tornado, and we have to go get him moved out of the dorms," she said on Friday afternoon.
She won't be going alone. Her son, James O'Dwyer, his girlfriend and her three roommates will make the trip back.
Just like every other University of Alabama student who doesn't call Tuscaloosa home, they were ordered to leave the campus and the city. O'Dwyer's girlfriend, Mary Hart, and Kate Barth are both from St. Louis, MO, too far for family to get them immediately. Courtney Hill and Amanda Carden are both from Madison, AL, which also suffered from the tornado. Homes have no power or water there, either.
So James' mom took them in, and is ready to welcome more, just like she and her neighbors did for Katrina victims.
The group can't use the family's van for the trip, because her husband, a member of the Georgia State Defense Force, has been activated to help out in Georgia. So she's renting a truck. That got her to ask herself, "why am I taking an empty rental truck over there? I need to have it filled."
With the help of a friend, Steve Beecham, and her son's Facebook posts and texting, they got the word out.
"I have been so overwhelmed. You would not believe what my driveway looks like," she said.
O'Dwyer doesn't know most of the people who dropped off donations.
They'll take the donated bottled water, diapers, kids and adult clothing, toiletries and non-perishable food to a rescue center in Tuscaloosa.
Thousands and thousands of students are homeless, not to mention families, she said. It's unbelievable what they went through.
She said as a mom, if you care about people you just have to do something.
"So that's what I'm doing in a very unofficial way, just taking anything that people would bring," O'Dwyer said.
And she promises to keep making trips every weekend as long as donations keep coming in.
Here's what the O'Dwyers are asking as donations:
- Bottled water
- Canned goods
- Baby food