By: Tina Bryson
TOMAHAWK, Ky. — The impact of heavy rainfall in Eastern Kentucky has particularly hit Martin County residents leaving many struggling to determine how to handle damage from mudslides and flooding of homes and automobiles. Christian Appalachian Project’s Disaster Relief Program has assessed several homes and will be diverting staff and volunteers from other housing projects to help families in need.
“There was so much rain over several days; the ground was already saturated. We expected flooding to be an issue because the water just didn’t have anywhere else to go,” said Robyn Renner, director of Disaster Relief and also chair of the Kentucky Volunteer Organizations Active in Disaster (VOAD). “CAP is working to assist the elderly and individuals with disabilities that have a range of flood-related issues.”
In one case, a resident’s small home was flipped by the rushing flood waters and ended up on its side in the river. Renner has spent the week identifying the most critical needs in the Tomahawk area.
“Sometimes families need help with clearing out debris and decontaminating from flood water,” Renner said. “When everything you own has been soaked through in through from your home to your car, it can be overwhelming. We work to coordinate several CAP programs to help families get through these first critical weeks.”
March is the start of CAP’s WorkFest season, an alternative spring break program for college students from across the nation. Students work to make homes safe, warm, and dry in several Appalachian counties. Some of those college students have been re-assigned from planned housing projects in order to help with disaster relief.
“CAP is committed to assisting as many as we can in a timely manner,” Renner added. “Our Housing staff and volunteers are coordinating to continue to provide needed assistance to homeowners, as well as address the additional needs presented by this disaster.”
In addition to flood victims needing help with cleanup, some have lost their hot water heaters, water purifiers, and heat pumps. As pending winter snowstorms are anticipated for parts of the country, the goal is to strategically deal with one issue at a time.
“It’s a lot of logistics, but you do your best,” Renner said. “Flood waters and snowstorms just make things a bit more challenging. We just take it one moment at a time.”
For additional information on how to support Disaster Relief responses in Appalachia, visit www.christianapp.org.