Fruita grad visits Alabama, stays to help after tornado

Sara Gould of Boulder provided this image of a tornado ripping through Alabama during a recent trip to Birmingham, Ala. Gould is a graduate of Fruita Monument High School.



Sara Gould took a trip last month to the South to locate family members, but soon found herself in the midst of killer tornado country.

Not long after checking into a hotel near Birmingham, Ala., Gould watched as tornadoes ripped through the area.

Gould, a graduate of Fruita Monument High School, was on a mission to find family members and perhaps glean some new family recipes for her product, Sara’s CHoPPe ShoPPe Salsa.

She’s lately been helping with a massive cleanup effort to help the area rebuild after a series of tornadoes slammed the South.

“People here are very helpful,” she said. “They don’t sit and wait for anyone to tell them what to do. They go and do it, so that’s what I’m doing, too.”

Gould boards a bus filled with volunteers and heads to Concord, Ala. Whole neighborhoods were decimated in the small town, and Alabama sustained some of the highest death rates from the storms.

Helping clear rubble “is kind of like working in a lumberyard all day,” Gould said.

Tornado-devastated areas must be cleared by hand, and the remnants of homes and belongings are hauled to the streets for contractors to take away.

Groceries hang in the trees, chain-link fences are wound around everything and cinder blocks litter the ground. The smell from rotting items can be overwhelming, she said.

“It looks like a giant had gone walking through the forests,” she said. “There are 100-year-old trees sitting there like somebody picked them out of the ground like a dandelion.”

Gould sells her salsa at the Cherry Creek Farmers Market in Denver. She most recently lived in Miami and worked to promote her salsa there. She intended to market her salsa in the South, but living through several bouts of tornadoes and working with relief efforts has taken up most of her time.

“There’s definitely more important things right now,” she said.


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