Shirley lives in a rural area in the Benton, KY area, on a property – her “a little bit of heaven” – that she and her husband acquired over 20 years ago. Ten years ago Shirly lost her husband and resided on the property alone with two sons in the local area.
On the evening of December 10th, while watching news reports of an approaching storm with potential tornado cells, Shirley heard the Channel Six weatherperson make a statement that anyone living in a manufactured home on a portable frame, like hers, must evacuate and take shelter in a more durable structure. Shirley acted immediately and sheltered in her garage under a small table. Within minutes, she heard debris flying through the air, hitting the garage and then heard her residence lift off the concrete pad and crash into the surrounding property. Meanwhile, the tornado tore apart her garage, leaving no walls standing and debris collapsing all around her.
The team cultivated a close relationship with Shirley and were moved by her warmth and positivity. They describe her as “always carrying a smile and showing resilience…Instead of focusing on her loss, she was continually sharing her thanks for being alive and having people she doesn’t know come to her aid.”
Community is pivotal following the devastation of natural disasters. It’s what unites families, friends and neighbors as they work through the consequent challenges. Loss of loved ones, homes destroyed beyond repair, displacement to inadequate shelter and disruption to income are a stark reality. Yet, it’s through this turmoil that a renewed sense of community is formed. It’s our human reaction to help one another and, through this help, communities can begin their road to recovery.