In just four days, the City of Gulfport, through the Gulfport Police Athletic League (PAL), collected more than $11,000 to aid the citizens of Enterprise, Alabama who suffered catastrophic damages in the tornado that struck the city nearly two weeks ago.
Mayor Brent Warr, Fire Chief Pat Sullivan, Deputy Police Chief Alfred Sexton, Gulfport Police Athletic League (PAL) President David Shoemake, along with other members of the Gulfport Police and Fire Departments and city staff visited with Enterprise city officials last Friday and toured the devastated area impacted by the tornado.
"Seeing the devastation caused by the tornado brought back so many memories of what we saw the morning after Katrina. Their emergency operations are in full force and they, like the Gulf Coast, are working hard to clean up the devastated area and help put peoples lives back together," said Mayor Warr.
Mayor Warr and David Shoemake presented gift cards totaling nearly $11,000 to the city of Enterprise, the Enterprise School System, and to First Baptist Church to distribute to those most in need in the community. The gift cards were the result of donations made by Gulfport City employees, residents and businesses such as Island View Casino, Regions Bank and Bancorp South.
The group toured Enterprise High School which was nearly demolished by the tornado and had the opportunity to visit with school officials who were on the ground during and after the storm who participated in the rescue and recovery efforts of the students.
"It was very difficult to walk the halls of the school and realize the loss of life this community has suffered," said Chief Sullivan.
A concrete roof in one of the hallways collapsed during the storm killing eight students and injuring many others.
City officials were able to gather valuable emergency preparedness information from the tour and from talking with the emergency responders and school officials who were at the site at the time the tornado touched down. These lessons learned will be invaluable in preparing for similar situations in Gulfport should they arise.
The group also delivered six pallets of school supplies to the Enterprise School District that was donated by the Gulfport School District.
"We have been the recipient of so many gifts since Katrina to help our students get back in to school. We are thankful to provide the same type of gifts and supplies to the students of Enterprise as they return to class later this week," said Glen East, Superintendent of the Gulfport School District.
A truckload of soft drinks, water and sports drinks was also delivered courtesy of Allen Beverage Company (Pepsi Cola), Coca Cola Bottling Company and Wal-Mart of Gulfport.