In April 24, Tzu Chi volunteers in North Carolina, in the eastern United States, held a distribution for more than 40 families who lost their homes to tornadoes that devastated the region a week before. Some suffered the tragedy of losing their children.
In April, more than 200 tornadoes struck seven southern states, causing enormous damage and a storm of hailstones. On the single day of April 16, North Carolina was hit by 62 tornadoes, which left 23 people dead, destroyed many homes and shops and cut electricity to 250,000 homes. One of the worst hit places was Raleigh, a city of 400,000, where major avenues downtown were blocked by fallen trees. On April 19, the authorities lifted a ban on entry to the affected areas, allowing people to return to what remained of their homes and recover what they could.
Yang Dianhong, head of the foundation's office in North Carolina, and volunteer Li Zhenyong took the opportunity to visit Raleigh and see how they could help. They found devastation over a wide area, with one of the worst hit places a trailer park in Stony Brook North with about 100 trailers. Three children from the same family in the trailer park were killed. When Yang and Li reached there, they found the police keeping order and the residents queuing up in an orderly way to receive clothes, shoes, canned food, toys and other items from charity organizations operating out of tents. The Salvation Army was giving out cooked meals and the head of a Mexican restaurant providing food to his fellow Hispanics. Yang and Li decided to make the trailer park the center of their relief work and carry out a distribution five days later.
On April 24, seven volunteers prepared for the distribution, bringing 64 blankets, 50 packs of daily necessities, four bags of food. They arrived early at the trailer park, made a breakfast for 43 residents and provided support and comfort for them. They paid particular care and attention to four families who had lost children, including a gift of consolation money and blankets. Their love and concern left a deep impression of officials of the city government, who helped as much as they could and promised to work with them closely in the future. During the distribution, they met a Taiwan man named Chen who has lived in the U.S. for more than 40 years and had also come to the trailer park to help. When he saw the familiar blue and white uniforms, he came over to express his support for the unconditional love of the volunteers.
After a further evaluation, the volunteers decided to take on nine of the families as long-term care recipients and accompany them rebuild their homes and lives as soon as possible. To learn more about Tzu Chi Foundation, visit http://tw.tzuchi.org/en/
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