ALTO, TX (KTRE) - Following an outbreak of deadly and severe storms on April 13, the city of Alto has received support from dozens of disaster ministry relief teams, regional nonprofits, and now, crowds of volunteers from neighboring East Texas cities.
When the city of San Augustine was flooded in 2008, and again most recently in 2017 by Hurricane Harvey, the mayor of San Augustine said donations poured in from all over the state to help the city recover. It was this kindness and selflessness that mayor Leroy Hughes remember when he first heard of the devastation in Alto.
“We decided at the city hall at we were going to do something for Alto,” said Hughes. “You know, neighborly, you don’t know when something is going to happen in San Augustine. We just wanted to lend a helping hand.”
Hughes was part of a group from San Augustine on Tuesday that visited Alto with donations of tarps, non-perishable food items, toiletries, paper towels, and other supplies for the people of Alto.
“It’s always good to pay it forward, first thing,” said Hughes. “People help you, you help other people.”
Robert Cotton, CEO of KTL Services in Arlington, also traveled to Alto to help residents repair homes and clean up storm damage. Cotton lived in San Augustine before moving his business to north Texas. He said he’s been all over the state helping in similar situations, but the most recent tornadoes hit too close to home.
“It’s a little tough, especially with them going through Harvey a couple of years ago; everything that happened there, Katrina, Rita, back in the earlier days," said Cotton. “We decided this was something that, hey, we need to get into, and something that we need to do as far as our way to give back. It’s a blessing to be able to do it."
Cotton added that there was a sense of “personal relief” that came with giving back to nearby communities; something he believes needs to be seen more.
“For me, actually knowing some of the people that are here in Alto, it’s an awesome thing for me to be able to come back and give back to this community, from the community that I come from; seeing the family units actually come together,” Cotton said.
Cotton’s company is also hiring residents of Alto to work to repair storm damage; pouring money into the community to do work that needed to be done one way or another. The sentiment was shared by Hughes, who said he’s just happy to be in a position where he can lend a hand to his fellow East Texans.
“We all are neighbors, I don’t care how far we are away, but we’re all neighbors and we need to help each other,” said Hughes.
KLTV and KTRE have partnered with the American Red Cross and East Texas Food Bank. Both agencies are responding to our neighbors in areas devastated by tornadoes and severe weather. If you’d like to donate time, money, or other resources to storm victims, you can do so by visiting this link to the Caring for East Texas Tornado Relief page.