Univ. of Tennessee students help Middlesboro flood victims

By: Kendall Downing Email
By: Kendall Downing Email

They've crossed state lines to help those who lost it all! A group of "volunteers" from the University of Tennessee is spending fall break in Bell County helping flood victims rebuild.

It's work that cannot be done alone.

"I had to wait until they came with a boat to get me," said Patricia Poore of Middlesboro.

Poore needs help building back what the June flood quickly tore away.

"It took three hours. I had to sit in the water," said Poore.

It's youthful faces lending a hand this time.

"It's just a reality check for us," said Katie McBrien, a UT sophomore.

"It brings hope when they see that youth and that enthusiasm. It brings hope," said Norman Cornelius, with Bell-Whitley Community Action Agency.

More than 100 students from The University of Tennessee are in Middlesboro right now. They are helping flood victims get things back in place.

"Everything is gone in there. And you can notice on the plywood where the water has come up to," said McBrien.

The students are part of a Christian group called The Cross. They come to Southeastern Kentucky and do mission work each year.

The flood left enough work this year to go around.

"It really did give us a special opportunity to come in and help the residents of Middlesboro," said Jim Bailey, Executive Director of The Cross.

"That's why he sends people, and he wants people to be blessings to each other," said Poore.

Students said they don't mind helping those just across the state line. They hope folks in Kentucky don't hold the orange against them.

They'll let it be known they were here in more ways than one.

"They leave their mark when they leave. At some point somebody's home or building is going to have a UT on it somewhere," said Cornelius.

The crew from UT plans to stay through the weekend and leave on Saturday.

The Bell-Whitley Community Action Agency is coordinating the volunteer effort. Bell County Emergency Management provided lunch for the volunteers Thursday, and area churches have already donated cold water.

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