On March 3, 2018 a massive EF4 tornado ripped through the small town of Beauregard, Alabama, killing 23 people and injuring 97 others – it was deadliest tornado to hit the U.S. since May 2013. When employees from GP's Naheola mill, several hours east, learned of the devastation, they didn't hesitate to jump in to help the recovery effort.
Several mill employees from the Naheola Pride Cooking Team quickly whipped up a plan. The team of seven, plus their family members and a 12‐foot trailer, made the four‐hour drive from Naheola to Beauregard with cooking supplies to make meals on‐site and GP products ready to hand out for community members and first-responders.
As group that's been around for almost 30 years attending various community events such as fairs and cook-offs, they know how important community is – especially in times of crisis. The team had even helped with recovery efforts during Hurricane Katrina in 2005. When the tragedy in Beauregard hit, it awakened their emergency response calling once again.
Armed with pulled pork, beans, Sparkle® paper towels, Angel Soft toilet paper and Dixie plates donated from the mill, the team was ready assist in the best way they knew how.
“We only had a few days to prepare, but we knew we had to get here fast. What if this happened to our town?”, said John Gibson, six-year member of the Naheola Pride Cooking Team. “Helping out is bittersweet–we honestly hope to never have an opportunity like this again.”
The team strategically set up at the Providence Baptist Church, 11 minutes away from Beauregard, to stay away from hazardous areas and not impose on other recovery efforts. From Thursday to Sunday, the team was able to feed hundreds while providing them with toilet paper and paper towels. The team left with an empty trailer but full hearts, as they were able to give the residents one less thing to worry about–a warm meal and a few necessities.
The Naheola Pride Cooking Team and their families have a lot more to be proud of than just award-winning food. They represent the very best of GP's community spirit at a time when it was needed most.