After more than 20 years without service, Harlan County will now get help from the Red Cross. One volunteer says it was the Darby Mine disaster that killed five men in 2006 that pushed her to bring the service back to that area.
Big Sandy Red Cross officials are opening a satellite office in Harlan County. They say this office will help bring the same kind of service they provide across other parts of eastern Kentucky.
Harlan County native and Red Cross volunteer Judy Lusk remembers the Darby explosion... But she says something was missing. "I kept noticing on television that there was not a presence of the red cross. And I kept wondering... I know there were people there that were waiting to hear from loved ones."
She says the Red Cross should be there when tragedies like that happen. "It needs to be there. We never know what we may face tomorrow."
The Big Sandy Chapter of the American Red Cross will run the Harlan County office, but officials says that location will bring faster support to the growing communities, particularly with the increase in adventure tourism.
"Even if someone were to get lost, the presence of the Red Cross could help in the search efforts, those type of things, I think it's just key that we be there," says Lusk.
Robyn Tackett, the Director of the Big Sandy Chapter says, "Going into counties that we have and serve surrounding counties and actually opening offices there, and that helps people when they have fires or disaster calls will have a place to come to."
A recent push for donations brought nearly $30,000 dollars to the Big Sandy Chapter, which Tackett says helps move this project along. She says, "The people of eastern Kentucky have stepped up to support chapter and without that I just don't think that any of this would be a possibility."
Tackett hopes to open the Harlan office by May 1st. Red Cross officials have a number of events planned to help get this project off the ground, including a radio-thon in May. They also say they're always looking for more volunteers.
For mor information contact:
Big Sandy Area Chapter
American Red Cross
113 South Central Avenue, Prestonsburg, KY 41653