Post Independent opinion: Valley’s big heart exposed yet again with Joplin drive |

Post Independent opinion: Valley’s big heart exposed yet again with Joplin drive

Post Independent
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado

The images from Joplin, Mo., after a powerful May 22 tornado killed nearly 140 people and all but leveled a town with a population of 50,000, were emotionally riveting indeed.

Families sobbing outside their destroyed homes, looking in vain for lost loved ones, including young children; homes, businesses and schools destroyed; the city’s hospital rendered useless in a time of greatest need.

It was enough to prompt Glenwood Springs resident and business owner Deborah Herrell to action, as it did others around the country who have a kind heart.

And, as it has done at other times in the past when disaster strikes somewhere else, the Glenwood Springs and greater Roaring Fork Valley community responded.

Herrell got the word out, and in just over a week was able to collect a truckload of supplies, from canned food and dry goods to survival gear, to send to the victims of the Joplin tornado.

The community effort was impressive, from the many individuals who donated items and money to the cause, to the Good Shepherd youth group members who boxed up the items, to local trucker Jim Condon who donated his semi and his time to deliver the goods, to a company out of Denver donating the trailer, and Mike Fattor of Western Petroleum picking up the tab for the diesel fuel.

The list goes on, and will continue to go on through the weekend as the supply drive continues before the load is taken to Joplin early next week.

“I really feel this is what we’re supposed to do, is help other people,” Herrell humbly commented about her efforts.

The Roaring Fork Valley has a history of helping those in need, whether it’s locally when disasters like the Storm King or Coal Seam wildfires hit, or in places such as Pearlington, Miss., after Hurricane Katrina in 2006, and even global disasters such as the Haiti and Japan earthquakes.

In fact, what became the still-ongoing effort known as Mountains to Mississippi, to assist the small community of Pearlington recover from Hurricane Katrina, started with a single gesture when local emergency personnel delivered medical supplies and survival gear to the small Gulf Coast town.

“Once the guys arrived, their first call back was, ‘You can’t even imagine what’s really going on here,'” recalled Carbondale resident Tom Dalessandri, who headed up the Mountains to Mississippi program during the ensuing months and years.

It is hard to imagine the devastation disasters such as these can have. And we would certainly hope to be on the receiving end if a disaster of that scale should strike here.

So, to Deborah Herrell and all those who’ve stepped up to help out the folks in Joplin, thanks for making a difference.

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