NUCOR-Vulcraft Sends Water to Mississippi Tornado Victims 

By Greg Ritchie

Messenger Reporter

GRAPELAND – Most people in this area know about the charity and community service work performed by the NUCOR-Vulcraft company and their Grapeland facility. When word came of the devastating tornado that destroyed most of Rolling Forks, Mississippi, once again the team at Vulcraft were on hand with a plan – and life-saving supplies for the victims of that storm. 

As The Messenger reported last week, Vulcraft sent one of its own trucks to Arlington to pick up over 40,000 bottles of water and had one of their drivers take it to Mississippi and deliver it to the resilient people of that area. 

Donnie Gladden will turn 54 years old this month and has driven for Vulcraft for a little over seven years. He said the trip to pick up and deliver the water was fairly uneventful – although he noticed the help streaming to help Mississippi along the way. 

“I left Arlington with the water about 8:30 in the morning and arrived at Rolling Fork about 4:30 in the afternoon. Other than a little rain, it was a pretty good trip,” Gladden remembered. “I saw a lot of construction vehicles and other traffic headed towards the area where the tornado hit.”

About a mile from the town, Gladden was stopped by roadblocks set up to keep traffic in the devastated town to a minimum. Gladden was met by Mississippi state troopers and local police but once he explained his mission, the police escorted him into the town to make the delivery. Gladden then saw the effects of the tornado for himself.  

“On the south side of town there were still some businesses, but the center and north part of town it was just – I don’t know how to explain it – there just was nothing there,” Gladden said. “There were no trees and no houses. I spoke to one of the guys there helping unload my truck who said 90 to 95% of their customers lost their houses. That tornado just wiped the town out.”

Scenes from Gladden’s truck as he delivered much needed water on behalf of NUCOR-Vulcraft.

Gladden was impressed by the toughness of the locals, who in spite of everything, showed their appreciation for the donation and the time taken to get it delivered. 

“It amazed me how everybody had a smile on her face. They were happy and upbeat, even though they lost their house and lost everything,” Gladden said. “They were happy to be alive and I was proud and fortunate to be just a small part of helping.”

Gladden has carried thousands of loads across even more thousands of miles but was grateful to make this delivery – showing the care of East Texas towards our suffering friends in Mississippi. 

“There is a sense of pride for me, really – from the donor who donated the water, to Vulcraft and our manger helping make it happen,” Gladden said. “When I when I rolled in to that town and saw people waving and smiling, I couldn’t help but be prideful. I am just happy to have been a part of it.”

Greg Ritchie can be reached at [email protected]

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