The "Cinderella dress" Delana Blevins had so looked forward to wearing to the prom just needed a few alterations when the tornadoes ripped through northwest Georgia late last month, blowing it away along with the rest of the tailoring shop in Trenton. All she found in the rubble were scraps.
"I was bawling my eyes out," she said.
The two twisters that hit April 27 razed nearly 140 homes and killed two people in this community. The prom was nearly canceled. But Saturday night, Blevins and her good friend Marcella Lackey - whose dress met a similar fate - donned gowns donated by strangers for the teenage rite of passage. It restored some semblance of normalcy for them and more than 325 other Dade County High School students. Neither of the girls was hurt, and their homes weren't damaged.
Local volunteers started a dress drive. "My oldest daughter said, 'Mom, we've got dresses. What about their prom?' That's how it started," said Kim Massengale Goins, one of the effort's organizers.
She teamed up with Crystal Cadieux, a fellow volunteer at the American Legion, and set up a "Rescue Prom" Facebook page about 1 a.m. May 2. In a matter of days, the volunteers received more than a thousand dresses from people all over the country.
"It's been a release for our kids," said Patty Priest, the school superintendent in sprawling, rural Dade County. "It's been something they could look forward to, something to get their minds off the disaster."
Prom after storm cheers Ga. teens
Prom goes on
To see video of the tornado aftermath and the prom for Dade County High School students, go to links.tampabay.com.