CITY ISLAND, N.Y. (CBS 2) — Damage estimates from the deadly tornadoes that ravaged Alabama last month could hit a record $2 billion. More than half of the state’s counties have been declared disaster areas, and at least 328 people were killed.

The loss of life and property across the south touched the heart of one City Island woman, so she decided to do something to help. As CBS 2’s Don Dahler reports, her efforts quickly took on a life of their own.

When Patricia Madsen saw images of wrecked homes and wrecked lives, she said she couldn’t stop crying.

Patricia Madsen's home is full of bags holding friends' and neighbors' donations destined for tornado-ravaged Alabama. (Credit: CBS 2)

“As a mom, it was horrible, it was torturous,” she said. “I have two beautiful girls, and the first thing that came to mind was, ‘Oh my God, all those moms.’”

Madsen had a friend on Facebook who knew someone in Alabama who’d lost his entire family, so she decided to pull together a few items to send to him. Her husband, P.J., a fishing boat captain, happened to mention it to some neighbors.

“All of a sudden, he came downstairs the next day to take the girls to the park, and there was a massive amount of bags on my porch – and that’s how it all started,��� Madsen said.

The people of City Island began bringing bags of clothes, toys, first aid supplies, water and even food. Every corner of the Madsens’ home is packed – and people keep bringing more.

“It’s just amazing, amazing – that’s the only word that can come to my mind,” Madsen said.

Then the challenge became finding a way to get all of the donations down to Alabama.

The owner of a trucking company heard about what the Madsens were trying to do, and he had one of his drivers swing by to pick everything up – and take it to Birmingham, Alabama free of charge.

“People like this, you don’t meet everyday,” truck driver Roland Kemp said.

In a cold rain, Patricia’s family, friends and neighbors formed a line and started filling the big trailer, one bag after another.

“I might not have everything that I need, but I will open my door and say, ‘I’ll give a little something, and even if it’s just a little bit, it will mean the world to people who don’t have anything,’” Madsen said.

Madsen and her team are continuing to take donations, and the trucking company said they’ll keep making the runs to Alabama.

For more information or to find out how you can donate, you can contact Patricia Madsen directly at (917) 971-9945.

Please offer your thoughts in the comments section below.

Comments (14)
  1. Patricia madsen says:

    I just wanted to take a minute and thank Don Dahler for doing the story. He is such an amazing anchor!!!! Because of him and the story he did I was actually able to fill a whole 18 wheeler of donations to send down to Alabama!

    I would love to thank everyone who has supported me and who has donated!!! It’s about time we take care of our own!!!! And because of you there are so many people a little bit happier!! Please keep the donations rolling in. If no one else will help put Alabama on their feet, by God We Will!!!!!!!!

  2. Patricia madsen says:

    Joan where in long island are you?

  3. Joan says:

    I have over 6 bag of assorted women and men clothes, but because of my health I have no way of getting them tothe drop off piont in Long Island City. Any suggestions/

  4. Patricia madsen says:

    Dustin I am just so happy to help you!!! It hit home really bad and it felt like I had to do something! And this little voice did it. Because I was seen on tv. Pennsylvania and Houston has gotten in contact with clarks freight line and wants them to pick up shipments!!! I intend to do much more also!! I will have another shipment going out in two wks!!!! I am super excited and touched by all of the strong people there!!!!!

  5. Dustin says:

    Hi! My entire family live in Northern Alabama. I just wanted to write and thank you for all that you are doing. It warms my heart to see such compassion for my home state. I have posted your story onto a recently created Facebook group. Ill attach the link in case you want to check it out.

    Thanks once again! The world needs kind souls like you, your family, and friends!!/pages/Appreciation-for-the-Alabama-Tornado-Relief-Efforts/222814654401210?sk=wall

  6. Patricia madsen says:

    Thank you everyone for all of your support! This all started out with such a small idea! And in 4 days is just became big! I just want to thank Clark Freight International inc. For there services! It is so expensive for the trucker to come here. Just one trip cost almost $2,500. And for them to make that trip I am very thankful! I just can not believe how this all happened.
    All it takes is one voice to speak up! And now because people have seen the news PA and Houston are joining in!!!! Bobby at Clark Freight has been so busy with phone calls… Radio stations, news stations they are all there!!!!
    I am not able to replace the loved ones who unfortunatly died or the memories that they had. But be damned I WILL get them back on their feet, ONE WAY or ANOTHER. I am a WOMAN on a MISSION! And I will not give up!
    I am so happy that I can change the lives of many and help them get back on their feet!

    I will be collecting donations as long as people are willing to open their hearts! I will have a truck here every two weeks! So please let’s keep the donations rolling in! Help me on my mission to put these people in Alabama back on their feet!

    If anyone knows of lumber yards who would love to donate wood. Please let me know.
    There are a whole list of items that they need… Even the littlest thing will mean the world to them!

  7. Helen Boudreau Daddario says:

    Sorry that they put the wrong phone # for Patricia the right # is 917-971-9945 or Helen at 718-682-8376 and the drop off places are 321 King Ave. or 329 City Island Ave. both is in city Island

    1. Helen Boudreau Daddario says:

      you can also call Denise at 917-9349-8305

      1. Helen Boudreau Daddario says:

        so 917-939-8305 is Denise

  8. Helen Boudreau Daddario says:

    You can drop it off at 321 King Ave or 239 city Island Ave both is in city Island or give me a call at 718-682-8376 Helen Or call Patricia at 917-971-9945 thx very much for your help every little bit counts

  9. Susan says:

    Thank you so very, very much. This story really touched my heart. 2/3 of Alabama is a disaster area. Entire towns have been leveled, schools gone or beyond repair. Even the pictures, as bad as they are, are just a tiny glimpse or what it is really like. This is going to be a very, very long recovery. Thank you again for your kindness and generosity. Please keep Alabama and all of the southern states effected by this storm in your prayers.
    From Tuscaloosa, AL

    1. Helen says:

      Hi Susan my name is Helen I’m Patricia mom Yes my daughter and the family will keep this up as long as it takes

  10. Helen says:

    yes there is 321 King Ave in City Island or the City Island Fire House

  11. Laura says:

    Is there an address to drop off items?

Leave a Reply