After the tornados caused so much damage in many locations throughout Kentucky, I too had the thought many of Kentuckians had, and that was, “What can I do to help?” On Tuesday, March 6, my wife, Sharon, was coming back home from a trip to Corbin and saw firsthand some of the damage along Interstate 75 just north of London. When she came home, Sharon told me of the damage and how we should do something.
The next day after our Prayer Breakfast at First UMC Cynthiana, five of us loaded up on the church van and drove to East Bernstadt to see the damage, and to see what we as a church could do to help. As we entered the area under guard by the National Guard, we saw such devastation on one ridge where five homes and three lives were taken. We went to the checkpoint at the Fire Department to see what we could do to help.
We were asked to put together a work detail for the following Tuesday, March 13, and to bring canned food items with us. So I put out the word that we would take our charter bus leaving the church at 7:00 a.m. and working as a clean-up detail at one of the sites where homes were destroyed. We were told that 141 homes were completely destroyed beyond repair and 30 to 40 homes with repairable damage.
On March 13, we arrived at the check-in point in East Bernstadt with over 500 canned foods, 33 folks from First UMC of Cynthiana, and some from other churches in the Covington District. We worked all day on a hillside where one home had been picked up and landed across the road on a hillside in what looked like a million pieces.
We were able to clean up a big portion of that hill separating the materials, and personal items for the family to go through. The father of this home was going through cancer treatments, and his wife had been recovering from bypass surgery, and they had one child still living at home. They lost everything.
I was so proud as United Methodists responding by being the church in this community. We had a great team, as everyone got right to work and got the job done that day.