Atop the front page of today’s Daily Herald is my story on a grateful–and giving–Elmhurst man, Butch Navarro. He was spared by a tornado that ripped through a small Tennessee community a week ago.
In response, he is spearheading fundraising efforts for people there. As of late Friday afternoon, that gesture had spurred on more than $3,300 in contributions at a GoFundMe page that he created on Wednesday. The funds will go to the United Way of Obion County, where two towns in particular, Samburg and Kenton, have been hard-hit.
Garnering most headlines the past week has been the damage and loss of life in Kentucky. At least 77 people are confirmed dead in that state so far, with Gov. Andy Beshear offering a preliminary damage estimate of at least “hundreds of millions of dollars.”
As a result, donations pouring into that area have reportedly soared past $10 million.
A `Frustrating’ Situation in Tennessee
Meanwhile, the relative lack of focus on Obion County’s woes has been “very frustrating to us,” said Michelle Creswell, the director of the United Way of Obion County. Early on in my reporting, I resolved to include the perspective of a leader in charitable giving in times of such tragedy. That decision led me to the Center for Disaster Philanthropy, an organization with which I had not been familiar.
Although collecting goods (such as food and toiletry items) can be well-meaning, they are frequently not efficiently organized. That truth prompted a CDP leader to emphasize what I have come to learn over the years: when it comes to providing relief to any area beset by disaster, “cash is king” because people on the ground are adept at making those dollars stretch and in a most strategic way.
You can read the story online here.