Photo: City of Gadsden Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Director Ruth Moffatt was recognized by Gadsden Mayor Craig Ford and City Council members for her assistance in disaster relief following the tornadoes in Selma. Pictured, front row, from left: Moffatt, Ford. Pictured, back row, from left: District 1 Councilwoman Tonya Latham, District 2 Councilman Steve Smith, District 3 Councilman Larry Avery, Council President and District 4 Councilman Kent Back, District 5 Councilman Jason Wilson, District 6 Councilwoman Dixie Minatra, District 7 Councilman Chris Robinson. (Courtesy of Michael Rodgers, City of Gadsden)
By Emma Kirkemier, News Editor
City of Gadsden Director of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Ruth Moffatt spent the weekend of January 14 assisting with disaster relief in Selma at the request of the governor’s office.
Relief efforts began shortly after tornadoes devastated the City of Selma.
Moffatt had amassed eight years of experience with United Way of Etowah County at the time Mayor Craig Ford appointed her to the city position, including substantial experience in disaster relief. Moffatt served for several years with the State of Alabama Emergency Management Agency and Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster.
An official from the office of Governor Kay Ivey expressly contacted Moffatt on January 14 and requested her assistance and expertise. Moffatt traveled to Selma that day and aided in disaster relief efforts by setting up a Volunteer Response Center, which would coordinate all volunteer groups arriving in Selma.
“The VRC acts as a registration and appointment point for volunteers when coordinating requests for assistance from affected residents with the skills, resources and voluntary groups,” read an official commendation from Ford. “[Moffatt] also created an avenue for those affected to receive monetary donations for the disaster relief through the United Way. While in Selma, she identified heavily impacted areas that were hit and informed the command team that is where they needed to set up due to high impact.”
Ford recognized Moffatt publicly at the January 24 Gadsden City Council meeting.
“On behalf of the City of Gadsden, I would like to recognize and thank Mrs. Ruth Moffatt for her tireless efforts and willingness to serve in the assistance of citizens of Selma during a crucial time,” Ford said. “Gadsden is blessed to have your many skills and talents.”
Moffatt responded that she was grateful to have been asked to serve in such a capacity.
“Out of all my years of experience in disaster, this was the worst,” Moffatt said. “I went up to Beauregard where there were double-digit losses of life, but Selma by far was the worst. It was very difficult. I actually went on the ground, something I don’t typically do. I (usually) stay in the VRC and make sure that it’s running at its best, at optimal level, because that is the place that everyone comes in so that they can go out to the disaster scene. But it was a need to go out on foot and to see people.”
Moffatt went into the affected areas to facilitate assistance through the VRC and saw the community’s devastation firsthand.
“Imagine a whole area, and nothing is left,” she said. “People would have trees in between their house and just all manner of devastation in an area that deals with a lot of poverty.”
Moffatt stressed the significance of the City of Gadsden being called upon in such a time of crisis, in that the city “is recognized” for its emergency response.
“I called Josh (Tanner, interim EMA Director) on Sunday evening, and I said, ‘We don’t have any forms that we need to respond to this disaster,’” Moffatt said. “Within five minutes, Josh had every form from the City of Gadsden. We sat at the round table with the mayor and all the chiefs, and every form had ‘City of Gadsden’ on it. So what a blessing that the City of Gadsden was represented right there in Selma to help make a difference in their lives.”