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Unscathed Poarch Creek Indians Reach Out to Tornado-stricken Alabama

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The Poarch Band of Creek Indians (Muskogee), in southeastern Alabama, escaped tornado devastation but stood ready on Thursday to help those whose lives have been ripped to shreds.

“As of our assessments this morning, Poarch Creek did not suffer damages to the reservation or any of our properties related to the storms yesterday,” Sharon Delmar, the tribe’s public information officer, told Indian Country Today Media Network. “The tribe stands ready to help the people of Alabama rebuild during this difficult time.”

At least 250 people were killed on April 27 when more than a hundred tornados whipped through in a storm system that left swathes of destruction in six states. Many people are still missing. Tornados were continuing on Thursday as well. Alabama appeared to have been hardest hit, with at least 150 tornados in that state alone on Wednesday, and President Barack Obama declared it a disaster area.

The Poarch Band of Creek Indians are descended from a branch of the original Creek Nation, which used to cover all of Alabama and Georgia. They avoided removal 200 years ago and today live mainly on the Poarch Creek Indian Reservation outside Atmore, Alabama, 57 miles east of Mobile and 45 miles north of Pensacola, Florida. Tornado damage was concentrated in Tuscaloosa, in the northwest.

The Poarch have a large emergency management department that was coordinating assistance, Delmar said, and tribal police were already on the scene.

“Our emergency management department and tribal police are working with state and federal agencies to assist where needed,” she said. “Tribal Police has deployed a team of officers through Homeland Security to assist in DeKalb County.”

Cleanup was nowhere near beginning on April 28, as more tornados touched down and rescue operations continued. Portions of Tuscaloosa resembled the shots of northern Japan after its March 11 earthquake and tsunami.

"We're continuing to work closely with our state and local partners and tribal governments to make sure they have all the support they need for the duration of this storm," the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) said in a release.