Life Enrichment

My Give Back Story: Rebuilding Tuscaloosa

By Jacob Harmon

April 27, 2011 will be remembered for a long, long time as the day the devastating tornado outbreak hit the southeast. One of the hardest hit cities was Tuscaloosa, Alabama, home of The University of Alabama. Not even a year before this fateful day, I had moved from my apartment in Tuscaloosa to Atlanta with my wife. I had lived in Tuscaloosa for five years and knew I would be back to visit, but didn’t know it would be under these circumstances. After seeing the devastation on the news, I knew I needed to go help any way I could.

Two days after the tornadoes hit, the company I work for, Verizon Wireless, sent volunteers to the tornado-ravaged cities. I immediately jumped on board and went back to my home of five years. The destruction was unimaginable but the camaraderie of the survivors was undeniable. We set up generators in a Verizon store close to the damaged areas to make sure people who lost power or their cell phones in the storm were able to make calls to loved ones, charge their phones or receive new phones. 

My main purpose was to coordinate the delivery of supplies brought in from Verizon stores around the southeast and make sure they got to shelters and relief volunteers. It was amazing to see how such simple things like water, a toothbrush or just someone to talk to could brighten the day of someone who had almost lost their life. 

I recently went back to Tuscaloosa for a football game and although the rebuilding process is underway, there is still so much damage and many people still out of homes. It’s important to remember that donations and supplies will be needed for a long time to come. Tuscaloosa has been changed forever. To donate to the relief efforts, visit or