OSSEO, WI (WEAU) As people down south continue to clean up from hundreds of devastating tornadoes, they’re getting much-needed help from the Chippewa Valley.
The Western Wisconsin Chapter of the American Red Cross was out in full force in Eau Claire on Friday.
The Chapter said they collected $1,200 in donations for relief efforts across the south.
“The community turned out when the Haiti earthquake hit and the Japan tsunami and earthquake. Right now the disaster is in our own backyard. We really need some help,” said Heidi Jury of the Western Wisconsin Red Cross.
It’s estimated more than 300 people were killed when powerful tornadoes cut a path of destruction across six southern states last week.
Osseo firefighter Wes Whited said five of his cousins were killed by the storms.
Feeling the loss, the Osseo Rural Fire Department said it launched “Operation Alabama”.
The department sent 16 firefighters to Rainville, Alabama on Tuesday to assist in the recovery.
“It was worse than I expected. It was the worse I’d ever seen,” said Osseo Fire Chief Nel Gunderson.
After two days of helping people get back into their homes and clearing destruction, the firefighters returned to Osseo on Friday morning.
“People are very grateful that you’re down there helping and sorting out what little they have left,” said Mike Hallum, Osseo Assistant Fire Chief.
Upon returning to the station, the Osseo firefighters packed a semi truck full of food, clothes and furniture donated from local businesses and families.
They said this is their second truck full of supplies to head down south this week.
Kirk Gunderson, the Osseo EMS captain said victims in Alabama were astounded by the support from the Chippewa Valley.
“The driver said there were tears in people’s eyes when he pulled in and they opened it up,” Gunderson said.
The Osseo Fire Department said it’s still accepting donations and are looking to fill another truck in the next couple days.
The American Red Cross said it’s always taking donations for the relief effort, with 91 cents of every dollar going to families in need.
Click on the link below to donate to the American Red Cross.