HUNTSVILLE, Ala.(WHNT)-Relief volunteers from across the country are making plans to head to tornado-ravaged Oklahoma, including some from right here in north Alabama.
Officials with Prepare and Respond, better known as "PAR", say they will be sending a team to the Sooner state as soon as they get final clearance from local authorities on the ground. PAR is a volunteer network of more than a dozen Madison County churches that have pre-stocked disaster relief trailers strategically placed throughout the area.
The specially trained unit was created in the aftermath of the April 27th tornadoes, and has since been deployed to hurricane zones on the Gulf Coast and storm-ravaged areas in the Mid-Atlantic region. PAR spokesman Greg Nelson said relief teams started being assembled Tuesday, and will be ready to leave on a moment's notice.
"What we're doing right now is getting our volunteer base ready," said Nelson, who anticipated getting a green light to leave in the next few days. "There will be a strong presence of PAR in Oklahoma...We don't want to go down there as rebels and just do our thing. We want to have a purpose and a place to go when we get there."
Nelson said the PAR idea sprang to life after several local churches spontaneously teamed up in relief efforts across north Alabama in April 2011. Nelson said it's a job that often requires both physical and spiritual support.
"I think that Jesus would be among his people, and that's what drives it," said Nelson. "I tell you the whole nation cares, and they [Oklahoma victims] are about to find out."
PAR officials said the best way north Alabamians can help is by giving online at http://www.parforthecause.net/
Nelson said one hundred percent of the money PAR receives goes to on-the-ground relief efforts in Oklahoma, with no administrative or overhead costs at all. A departure date to Oklahoma will be announced soon.