Monday marked ten days since a deadly tornado outbreak devastated parts of Kentucky. Many storm victims are still looking for help getting back on their feet, so where can they turn? One organization is preparing to help victims for months to come.
After a quick stop at the Red Cross building in Lexington, John Williamson is on his way back to West Liberty to manage the shelter there. Like many of the volunteers, he's seen a progression from the immediate aftermath of the tornadoes to the needs that persist in the hardest hit areas. "I sat up one morning at three o'clock in the morning letting someone talk to me and tell me their story," Williamson said, "and it was the first time they'd been able to talk about it."
The initial shock has passed. Volunteers are addressing the basic needs of food and shelter, and the cleanup process is underway. Now as the Red Cross makes the transition to one on one client case work, the group hopes to provide direct financial assistance to storm victims most in need. "We would compensate them for their loss of household goods. We would provide them some assistance for food. We'd also provide them some assistance to help repair their home, cover things like insurance deductibles and things of that nature," Red Cross Director Of Development Winn Stephens said, "What's next is that individuals, after they meet
with the Red Cross case worker will get information about some longer
term recovery programs that are provided by organizations like FEMA."
As the recovery continues, volunteers see signs of encouragement in the number of victims who have offered to pitch in themselves to help others. "Not only were they receivers, they were also givers," Williamson said, "They were giving back, and they wanted to be part of building their community."
West Liberty has a client assistance center at Morgan Central Elementary School where victims can meet with a case worker. In other areas, Red Cross teams are going door to door to meet with families affected. If you have a storm-related loss you can call the Red Cross to have a case worker meet with you. That number: 800-696-3873.