SAN ANGELO, TX -- As the students of Bradford Elementary returned to school on Wednesday on San Angelo’s north side, the community banded together to help relief efforts following the devastating EF-2 tornado from the early morning of May 18.
Representatives from H-E-B and Home Depot teamed up with members of the San Angelo Police and Fire Departments to aid the disaster-stricken neighborhood. The idea came from SAPD Sergeant Ali Shah.
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“Several days ago, Sgt. Shah came to me … He wanted to give back to the community,” Police Chief Frank Carter said. “He wanted the community members to see what police officers do in giving back. So, he organized the event. We’re out here this morning. We’re very thankful for the turnout.”
Sgt. Shah’s shift with Bravo Company started Saturday morning. He said he and his fellow officers heard all the police sirens when they got to work and were immediately dispatched to the Bradford neighborhood.
Seeing part of the community he aims to protect hurting inspired Shah to find a way to give back.
“We saw the mayhem, the disaster that had happened because of the tornado and that inspired us,” Shah said. “We saw the pain on people’s faces, the anguish they were going through. Then, during the week, we had to come up with something so we can try to help.”
Shah turned to his neighbor, Alex Vargas with Home Depot, and the two began to hatch a plan to help.
Vargas told Shah that Home Depot frequently helps out with disaster relief. Shah then went to Public Information Officer Tracy Piatt-Fox, who helped get HEB on board and the plan came full circle.
“After discussing with Sgt. Shah what was going on out here and what the families in the Bradford neighborhood were going through, he shared with me what was on his heart about partnering with Home Depot and their overwhelming willingness to help out in the community,” Piatt-Fox said. “I happened to run to HEB. HEB, for me, they’re like family. Some of their staff had asked about the department and what our response to the disaster site was like.”
Officer Piatt-Fox shared Shah’s idea with HEB and it was a no-brainer for the Texas staple.
“The moment I mentioned it, HEB, without question, said ‘How can we help? How can we aid y’all and that community,’” she said. “So from the jump, they were on board and it just grew from there.”
Sgt. Shah was moved by how quickly things took off.
“It was beautiful,” Shah said. “Everybody had a little bit of something they did to get this accomplished.”
Sgt. Shah was grateful for the help from HEB and Home Depot. HEB’s quick reaction to help stemmed from their commitment to their communities, according to Nick George, Top Store Leader at the new location at 5502 Sherwood Way.
“At HEB, we’re here to be with our communities in times of need,” George said. “This is right here in our hometown of San Angelo. So, we understand that there’s a need here and we have to help our neighbors out. We have employees that have homes affected, our customers have homes affected. In times of need, it’s important for us to step up and be there for them whenever they need us.”
With help from Home Depot volunteers stretching as far north as the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex, local volunteers from HEB and emergency responders, the coalition set out to finish the cleanup process and “get these homes back on their feet,” as George said.
“Sgt. Shah, he wants the officers, the civilians to know we’re more than officers. We’re a part of this community and we’re here to help in an effort to clean up,” Chief Carter said.
Story by Sam Fowler; Video by Manny Diaz