Auburn fans offer help to Tuscaloosa
In wake of deadly tornado, ‘human beings helping each other’
|UA football player injured|
Alabama longsnapper Carson Tinker was injured in the storms that bombarded Tuscaloosa and other parts of the state, forcing Auburn's national championship football team to reschedule a trip to the White House.
Crimson Tide spokesman Jeff Purinton said Thursday that Tinker was in stable condition at DCH Regional Medical Center. He didn't specify the nature of the injuries sustained by the junior from Murfreesboro, Tenn., but said coach Nick Saban visited him before flying to New York for the NFL draft.
It was the only injury reported as of Thursday afternoon involving a University of Alabama athlete. The statewide death total -- which includes 36 people in Tuscaloosa, two of whom were UA students -- continues to rise.
Auburn's White House trip was postponed as President Barack Obama is set to visit the state on Friday to view storm damage and meet with Gov. Robert Bentley and affected families. There was no new date immediately set for the White House visit.
In Tuscaloosa, softball games, a charity golf tournament and a rowing event were canceled. Alabama canceled final exams and moved back graduation ceremonies.
Coleman Coliseum and Bryant-Denny Stadium apparently came through OK, but streets near campus were filled with demolished buildings.
-- The Associated Press
Mother Nature reduced Tuscaloosa, Ala., to rubble. Auburn fans want to help put it back together.
This extraordinary gesture just speaks to the horrific scope of the disaster, so massive that it effectively dissipated the enmity between two of college football's most heated rivalries.
Wednesday evening, at least 280 people in six states lost their lives in what is being called the deadliest tornado outbreak in almost 40 years. At least 162 of the dead were from Alabama, and of that total, 36 died in Tuscaloosa -- where a tornado estimated to be a mile wide, leveled everything in its path for upwards of seven miles in the city.
Scenes of devastation moved Auburn fans so deeply, they forgot they were still enraged over an act of Alabama fandom taken much too seriously -- the poisoning of Toomer's Trees, allegedly by Alabama fan Harvey Updyke Jr.
So they moved into action. Warren Tidwell wanted to help. He saw how effective the Internet was in raising awareness of the plight of Hurricane Katrina survivors in southern Mississippi, that he used a similar tactic by creating Toomer's for Tuscaloosa, a Facebook page for those wanting to help to the people of Tuscaloosa.
"Football means nothing compared to this," said Tidwell, an Auburn student. "We are very passionate about our football here. But for something like this, we are not Alabama fans. We are not Auburn fans. We are human beings helping each other."
Tidwell started his page at 8 p.m. Wednesday night, and by this morning, 30,000 people linked to it. Among those was The War Eagle Reader, a website about all things Auburn, a place for the Tigers' most ardent fans.
"It's strange how that all that stuff instantly goes out the window," said Jeremy Henderson, editor of TWER. "We didn't have one joke. Not one stupid comment. It was pure concern and compassion.
"It's a horrible thing that happened there. We just hope this can be a little bit of good that comes from this."
Like the football game being just that, a football game. That it appeared to trump everything else is not lost on Henderson. He saw how Alabama fans rallied to Auburn's assistance after the tree poisoning with a Tide for Toomer's initiative. Now it’s their turn.
"At the end of the day we want to show the rest of the nation that the vast majority of Alabama fans and Auburn fans are good people," Henderson said. "And when people need help, we band together. This is so much bigger than a football game."
For those wanting to join this effort, with donations, e-mail the organization at firstname.lastname@example.org.