They Deliver Meals
For The Red Cross,
Address Crowd At
BY LISA WARREN
The Band Perry took time on Monday to visit with fellow Greene Countians whose homes and lives were torn apart during the tornadoes that hit the Camp Creek and Horse Creek communities on the night of April 27.
Kimberly Perry and her brothers, Reid and Neil Perry, of the award-winning country music trio The Band Perry, helped American Red Cross volunteers deliver hot meals and cold water -- as well as some hope.
The band members visited with tornado survivors who were present on the meal delivery route as well as with volunteers, rescue workers and others who were on hand at Free Will Baptist Family Ministries (FWBFM) for a brief afternoon press conference.
The Perry siblings say they hope that their simple but heartfelt gesture of support lets neighbors who have lost so much know how much the Perrys care about them, and lifts their spirits.
IN N.Y. AS TORNADOES HIT
"We're so thrilled to finally get to help out," Kimberly Perry said as the group prepared to set out on the noon-time meal delivery route.
She said that she and her brothers and their parents, Dr. Steve and Marie Perry, who all live in Greeneville, were in New York City on the night that the storm struck Greene County.
Earlier that same day, the band had appeared live on NBC's Today show, where they performed and helped to announce the nominees for the upcoming CMT Music Awards.
Following that day, the Perrys began a concert tour with country music entertainer Tim McGraw.
That evening and in the days to come, Kimberly said that her maternal grandmother, Betty Lou Sullivan, who was back home in Greene County, continuously kept them updated on what was happening concerning the recovery from the storms here.
She said that she and her family were all heartbroken to hear the news of the destruction.
'A HUGE PICK-ME-UP'
On the meal delivery route, the Perrys met personally with several tornado survivors.
Among the survivors was Chuck Feiling, who was out working to clear debris from his Rambo Road property.
Still showing signs of his injuries from the storm, Feiling told the band members that his wife, who was also injured in the storm, works at JCPenney in Greeneville and frequently tells him about seeing their grandmother at the store and speaking with her.
"I never thought that I would have the chance to see you," Feiling told them with a smile.
"This is a huge pick-me-up," he later added. "I needed it. The whole community here needed a pick-me-up."
Feiling said that his wife was still hospitalized at Takoma Regional Hospital, adding that her shoulder was broken in six places and her ankle was also broken.
Following their meal delivery on Rambo and Camp Creek roads, the Perrys ended their visit with a stop at Free Will Baptist Family Ministries (FWBFM), where a large crowd gathered to hear the band talk about the relief efforts.
STUDENTS 'MAJORLY EXCITED'
Among those in attendance were a large group of students from nearby Camp Creek Elementary School.
Many of the students at the small Greene County school were directly affected by the storm, or have friends and loved ones who were affected.
Michelle Gibson, a first-grade teacher at Camp Creek Elementary School, said her students were "majorly excited" to have an opportunity to see The Band Perry in person.
Prior to the group's appearance, many of the students could be heard chanting "Band Perry! Band Perry!"
The Perry siblings appeared on a small stage that had been set up outside the Jackson-Tolle Learning Center on the FWBFM campus, next to Camp Creek School.
They were joined on stage by Dr. James Kilgore, FWBFM's president and CEO, who called for a round of applause for the Greene County first responders who came to the aid of those in need in the immediate aftermath of the tornadoes.
Kilgore also highly praised the efforts of the Greene County Sheriff's Department, local volunteer firefighters, the Greeneville Light & Power System, the Greene County Road Department, Emergency Management officials, and many others "who have dedicated hours upon hours to helping others in the Camp Creek and Horse Creek communities.
KIMBERLY PERRY COMMENTS
Kimberly Perry told the crowd that when she and her brothers first learned of the tornado damage back home, "our hearts were just broken."
While on tour, Kimberly Perry said that they have "been itching to get back to town and figure out how we can help out.
"So today we got to head out and give some lunches away. We also got to hear stories and see the devastation," she said.
"Our hearts are broken for the losses. But we were encouraged and excited to see those still standing. Greene County is an intrepid little place. You guys are the strength of Tennessee," she added.
Because of the widespread tornado devastation that also hit other parts of the South, such as Alabama, as well as the current flooding in Memphis, Kimberly said that East Tennessee didn't receive as much media attention.
"So we are just really striving to shine a big spotlight right here on East Tennessee," she said.
One way that the band is doing so is by donating all of the proceeds that they receive from the upcoming CMT Music Awards to the Greene County Chapter of the American Red Cross, for local disaster relief efforts.
The band is also working on ideas for future ways that they plan to help aid the recovery and rebuilding effort for Greene County.
"It's been so heartwarming to see folks from our town rally together to help others during this time," Kimberly said.
Not only has there been an outpouring from local individuals, churches, businesses and organizations, but Kimberly added that there had been a host of volunteers and support coming in from outside the area as well.
[Editor's Note: In one of the most recent outpourings of aid for the survivors, more than $77,000 was given or pledged on Monday afternoon in response to a special three-hour tornado relief telethon conducted on the three stations of Radio Greeneville. Please see related story on Page A-3.]
Earlier, her brother Reid told the media, "This reminds you how good and great this country truly is -- that in a time of need, we all come together."
Neil Perry added, "There's a lot of hope -- even though there is a lot of devastation. One of the guys we just visited with said that he was having a good day -- that he just got some good news today. I think there is hope for the future."
The band members encouraged persons to continue to support the tornado survivors.
MEETING RED CROSS
Prior to delivering meals, The Band Perry visited the American Red Cross Command Headquarters in Greeneville, where they met briefly with Red Cross volunteers who are helping in the disaster relief effort.
Anthony Morrison, executive director of the Greene County Red Cross chapter, said he was especially grateful to the band members for taking the time to visit.
"It is such a boost to morale," Morrison said, not only to those individuals and families affected by the storm, but also to the many volunteers who are helping.
"I can't thank the Perrys enough for this," he added.
As of Monday morning, Morrison said that "a little over 16,000 meals" have been served by the American Red Cross to date.
Glenda Bobalik, operations director for the relief efforts in East Tennessee, said that the April 27 storms affected 26 counties in the state.
Of that number, 10 counties received major damage and four (Greene, Washington, Bradley and Hamilton counties) were declared federal disaster areas.