Band Perry deliver meals to Greene storm victims
Posted: Wednesday, May 18, 2011 8:01 pm
By DON ARMSTRONG
The Johnson City Press
GREENEVILLE (AP) — The Band Perry traded the touring road for the country lanes of Greene County Monday. The chart toppers’ visit to their storm-devastated hometown was music to the ears of tornado victims.
The trio, recently named the Academy of Country Music New Artist of the Year and currently on tour with Tim McGraw, spent a rare off day delivering hot meals and lifting the spirits of those impacted by the April 27 disaster.
“This is actually the first opportunity we’ve had to come home since the storm,” said lead singer Kimberly Perry in between Red Cross meal deliveries. “I just had no idea. It looks like a war zone, which it practically was — war against nature. It’s just so heartbreaking. There’s still a lot of work that has to be done out here. Lots of folks are hurting.”
One grateful meal recipient was Camp Creek resident Chuck Feiling, who said he lost everything. His wife Cheryl shattered her shoulder in the storm and remains in the hospital.
“I meet (famous) people either through tragedies or at a NASCAR race,” said Feiling jokingly, who said he works with caterers at NASCAR events all over the country. “That’s my motor home lying on its side down there so I won’t be going to any races soon.”
The band delivered more than a meal to Feiling. Their visit left the “country music fan from way back” beaming.
He said the band’s grandmother (Betty Lou) shops at the Greeneville department store where his wife works and “brags about these kids all the time.”
“I’ve seen them on TV several times now,” he said. “To meet them, I never thought it would ever happen.”
He said he and his wife were some of the first storm victims to be seen at Takoma Regional Hospital and that his wife still had several weeks before she’s released. He had a wish for the band.
“If they get a couple minutes, if they could run in there and see her, she’d jump up off the bed. And her shoulder is broken in six places so she ain’t jumping too much,” he said with a laugh.
Feiling was thankful for the band’s visit and its impact as the community travels the slow road to recovery. “Everybody in this neighborhood needs a pick-me-up.”
Kimberly said the band was en route to Florida from New York when the storm hit. The same grandmother who makes a point to brag in JCPenney kept them updated on the storm.
“She was actually in her bathroom with a mattress over her head,” band member Neil Perry said. “We didn’t know if all our friends were OK because we had lost signal with some of them. We were just glad everyone was safe.”
Kimberly said the band realizes not everyone was so lucky in the town they think of as a sanctuary.
“Of course there were fatalities here in town and our heart just goes out to them,” she said. “Tragedy striking anywhere is tough, but especially in such a tight knit community. It’s really heartbreaking. To see the devastation is such a reality check.”
The band’s visit was not only fresh air to storm victims, but a treat for the Red Cross volunteers, hard at work since the tornadoes struck more than two weeks ago.
“It means a big deal, especially for the morale of our volunteers and for our staff that’s been working since the beginning,” said Anthony Morrison, Red Cross director for Greeneville/Greene County. “They have been so gracious to come do this.
“The community has been wonderful as a whole. When you add in a local celebrity, just to have that local tie, that really means a lot to us and the community that’s been affected by this.”
Since the storms hit, Morrison said the Red Cross had delivered 16,000 meals in Greene County as of Friday.
The Band Perry’s self-titled debut album has been certified gold and “If I Die Young” was a No. 1 single on the country charts. The band’s current single, “You Lie,” resides at No. 10.
Published in The Messenger 5.18.11