CRITTENDEN, Ky. - Nature's air attack tore apart lives and homes last year on March 2. Once the chaos of the F4 tornado passed, the ground swelled with support from the community.
Volunteers began removing debris, distributing food and water, and organizing help centers for the more lengthy and immediate recovery effort.
At Crittenden Baptist Church, the congregation started a clothing drive that, within three days, became a fully orchestrated relief center.
"It just grew," said volunteer Carol Jackson. "As we saw the need and coveted it out to the community items just kept coming in."
The church had recently built a fellowship hall that was not completed enough for the Grant County Building Inspector Terry Conrad to allow occupancy, but that changed.
"We wanted to get those people back on their feet," said Conrad.
Conrad gave the church an emergency occupancy permit to bring in goods and distribute them to the community.
"That was a space that was available and it was convenient for the people in the area," said Conrad.
"We went from not thinking we were doing anything to having a full business with shipping, receiving, inventory, the whole works," said Jackson. "It was a full oiled machine in three days."
Jackson is a realtor and owns the Realty Place in Dry Ridge, Ky. She said she has volunteered for the better part of the last 15 years, but had never been involved with anything so big so quickly.
"It was a life changing event in terms of understanding how much the community cares," said Jackson.
Hundreds of people visited the church daily for up to four weeks after the area had been declared a federal disaster area. Initially folks needed immediate necessities: food, water, and blankets. Then the survivors needs transitioned into eating utensils, plates, cleaning supplies, and even dog food.
The disaster relief center changed from a short term to a long term support center.
"A lot of [people] were just waiting until insurance checks kicked in," said Jackson. "But there were so many that didn't have insurance that needed [items] from ground up."
The whole experience changed Jackson's outlook on volunteering, appreciating life, and the strength of the community.
"Any one of us can be a second away from not having anything," said Jackson. "It was a time where we could really rally the troops to help. People who really needed it."
Jackson encourages people to not wait for a disaster or tragedy to occur before they volunteer. People always need assistance from food to comfort, she explained.
"Well, it's because it's what we're supposed to be doing."
An anniversary reflections event at Crittenden Baptist Church will take place on Saturday at 6 p.m. There will be entertainment by the Moron Brothers, a bluegrass comedy band.
The church is located at 215 Russell Road, Crittenden Ky. 41030. Find out more on their Facebook page here .
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