"Let the healing begin. We are blessed to be a blessing."
That was Auburn basketball head coach Bruce Pearl's message to Beauregard Elementary School as he and the rest of the Tigers coaching staff delivered lunches to and visited with teachers and faculty at the school Monday morning.
Last Sunday, an EF4 tornado tore through the Beauregard area, less than 10 miles from Auburn's main campus, killing 23 people and destroying countless homes. It was the deadliest tornado in the U.S. in six years.
President Donald Trump visited Beauregard on Friday. More information and coverage of the disaster can be found here on The Plainsman's website.
"I know that Auburn and its leadership, both in athletics and the university, are working diligently to form some action to respond," Pearl said the day after the tornado. "Not only short-term, but long-term as well to help our community to rebuild and to heal. The devastation is real. I live up on the side of town probably closest to the area right off of Moores Mill Road and Lee Road. Obviously, it hits home."
In last week's print edition of The Plainsman, Auburn athletics coaches and leaders voiced their support for the victims.
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Over the weekend, athletic director Allen Greene opened two donation sites on campus where people could drop off donations for those affected by the tragedy.
"Our thoughts and prayers are with everyone affected by the devastation in Lee County,” Greene said. “Auburn Athletics will collaborate with Auburn University leadership and local authorities to ensure that our relief and recovery efforts have maximum impact on those directly affected.”
At Auburn athletic events across campus Saturday, Auburn handed out "Lee County Strong" stickers. Auburn Arena observed a moment of silence for the victims prior to tip-off of Auburn basketball's regular season finale against Tennessee.
"Our focus, and the reason why we're going to continue to bring that up throughout the season, is that this is going to be an ongoing rebuild," Pearl said last week. "It is tremendous how many people have come out and supported from all over the country. We've got crews that are specializing in the clean-ups. There are probably more chainsaws right now in the Auburn-Opelika, Lee County area, than there ever have been. People want to get in there and help. It's tremendous.
"When that all does die down, we need to then go about the business of rebuilding financially, through scholarship for students, through building and rebuilding of homes, through the churches, through the community support, and we have to be very strategic about that. This isn't going away."
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