Ice, food finally flow in Uniontown

Published 12:00 am Thursday, September 23, 2004

UNIONTOWN – A line of cars circled the block from U.S. Highway 80, past the Uniontown Police Department and into the parking lot across from the station where a multitude of volunteers and city employees had set up a makeshift assembly line to pass out ice and meals ready to eat (MREs).

The aide comes almost a week after Hurricane Ivan tore through the city, damaging the town’s Piggly Wiggly and closing it to customers.

“They’re food has gone bad because of no power, but they couldn’t go replenish because the store is closed,” Kobi Little, a spokesman for U.S. Congressman Artur Davis, said.

The people of Uniontown and southern Perry County nearly didn’t get the supplies when the appropriate requests were not filed, but quick-thinking Mayor Philip White contacted Davis’ office and got the wheels turning.

“Congressman Davis’ staff has really done an outstanding job, they’ve received telephone calls and they answered each call,” Perry County Commission Chairman Johnny Flowers said. “They responded with much-needed food, water and ice.”

Little said the oversight was the result of a communication breakdown, but said the residents of Uniontown and Southern Perry County would be taken care of.

The water, which was the most popular request, did not last long, however, as the group serviced about 500 cars Wednesday morning.

John Gray of Uniontown would have liked some water, but said ice would suffice.

“I need water and ice, my water is brown so I know it’s not drinkable,” he said. “I know the ice is good.”

As for the MREs, they don’t look appetizing, but as Uniontown resident Thomas Pauling said, it beats nothing.

“My lights are off and I don’t have any food,” he said, as he accepted five of the brown plastic pouches from a volunteer.

As of Wednesday afternoon, 2,000 gallons of water had been given out, along with approximately five tons of ice and 5,000 to 7,000 MREs.

“This morning for water we had about 500 (residents), now that the food has come in more than double that has come through and they’re still lined up,” Flowers said.

As he spoke, Perry County Health Coordinator Frances Ford opened another box of MREs to hand out to the next car. Flowers pointed to the bustling woman and said “there’s one of the hardest-working people in Perry County.”

He explained that Ford had begun preparations for the disaster well in advance of the storm, calling meetings of the appropriate officials, helping with the shelters and with the disbursement of needed items.

“And she’s still on top of it,” he said. “And she’s done all of this not for pay but on a volunteer basis.”

Ford wasn’t the only volunteer out there, Andrew Moore of the Uniontown Volunteer Fire Department worked alongside city employees handing out the ice and other necessities.