ANNISTON ARMY DEPOT, Ala. - Storms that ravaged many areas of Alabama April 27 left a lasting impression on Calhoun County and members of Anniston Army Depot's workforce.

According to Angela Durant, chief of the depot's Community Counseling Center, 32 employees were affected by tornado or storm damage, primarily in the Ohatchee, Jacksonville and Wellington areas. Of those, seven had a total loss of their home.

Though the loss of property was devastating, Durant said she was thankful no depot employees lost their life that day.

"We had some loss of family members," said Durant. "There was no loss of any employees, but some of our employees lost family members."

The Community Counseling Center is reaching out to those in the depot family who suffered damage or loss.

"We are finding that most of them have insurance and family to assist them," said Durant, adding the center offers counseling to depot employees and their immediate family members.

The center also guided the numerous employees who wanted to give of their personal time, their money or their talents to assist the storm victims.

The weekend after the storm was a busy one for many off-duty depot employees who filled their time delivering food or assisting with debris cleanup. To assist the local American Red Cross with disaster relief, local churches provided hot meals for those affected and depot employees were among those delivering to designated drop-off points throughout Calhoun County.

One need was met almost immediately, thanks to some well-placed volunteers. A call from a depot employee volunteering at the Red Cross said ice was needed throughout the storm-damaged areas. Durant immediately located employees who were willing and able to deliver the ice on their own time.

"We really want to thank these employees for their time and their effort. It was a need that popped up and, when I called, it was taken care of immediately," said Durant. "That is the kind of employees we have our here."

Regulations prevent the depot as a whole from assisting with relief efforts and employees could not volunteer for cleanup or other support roles while on duty, but were encouraged to give as much of their personal time to the recovery efforts as possible.

"Everyone certainly feels compassion and concern for those who lost loved ones and property in the recent disaster, but, as Army employees, we owe a duty to our warfighters to continue our mission and to keep our operating costs to a minimum. The Office of Personnel Management and local regulation ANADR 690-23 provide guidelines for us to follow in balancing our personal feelings and concerns with our assigned mission. In some cases, the depot can grant excused absence and in others, employees need to take approved leave either in the form of annual leave or leave without pay," said George Worman, the depot's chief legal counsel.

According to Randy White and Roderick Harden, two employees affected by the storms, depot employees made full use of their personal time to help friends, co-workers and neighbors.

"I live across the street from Oak Grove Baptist Church and was fortunate to have minimal damage from the tornados," said White, an LMP training manager. "The generosity of the volunteers and their willingness to help others was overwhelming. People came from all over; not asking for money, but bringing their chain saws, tractors, tools, trailers and other equipment just to lend a helping hand to those in need.

"I was at the church when depot employees showed up with numerous boxes of ice. Seeing those ANAD hats on volunteers made me very proud to be an employee here."

Harden, who works in the Directorate of Public Works, was one of the employees who suffered a total loss.

"The storm took three fourths of the roof off my house as well as the end of the house and the rain soaked everything," said Harden.

Harden and his wife, Diane, rode out the storm that night at their son's home in Webster's Chapel. Because of numerous trees and power lines in the roads, it was 11 p.m. before he made it home to see the devastation there.

Since the storm, Harden said he has received an outpouring of help from co-workers, friends and friends of friends who have visited and offered help in any way possible.

"Everyone has called me over and over," said Harden.

Never one to be idle when others need a helping hand, Harden has assisted other storm victims as well. During his travels to the other storm-ravaged areas of Calhoun County, he has seen numerous familiar faces.

"Every emergency place I've been to, I have seen depot employees working," said Harden.

Page last updated Thu September 29th, 2011 at 13:36