It has been a little more than a week since a massive tornado outbreak struck Kentucky and neighboring States. While it was heartbreaking to watch the storms come through and the damage left behind, it has been heartwarming to know that neighbors and good Samaritans have banded together under clearer skies to respond with a helping hand.
Organizations and individuals have responded with financial assistance as well. Many of our neighbors have donated to the relief efforts through local non-profits and the American Red Cross. Toyota, Ford, Xerox, the United Way of Greater Cincinnati, and other organizations have all pledged generous contributions for the relief efforts. This financial aid supplements federal resources requested by Governor Steve Beshear and supported by the Kentucky Congressional delegation.
In Independence, Twenhofel Middle School opened its doors to donations for the victims of an EF-4 tornado that touched down in nearby Piner. Within mere hours of advertising the drive, clothing tightly packed yards-long coat racks, and tables became mountains of clothes, toiletries and food. The school's principal described the outpouring as "overwhelming."
Another example of the outpouring of good will was in Fleming County when neighbors rushed to offer clothing and toys to a family whose mobile home was all but destroyed in the storms. Volunteers have operated shelters from Bedford to Dry Ridge to our neighbors in West Liberty in the Sixth District, where the town suffered devastation.
The Tide "Loads of Hope" mobile laundry program, which first began in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, has come to the Commonwealth to wash items for local residents.
And there's the entrepreneurial work of Lisa Raterman, who started the Facebook group "Coordination of help for NKY victims of 3.2.12 tornado" almost immediately. She used this page to begin recruiting, coordinating and focusing local assistance and relief efforts in our communities.
All of these efforts have been crucial and they inspire us to keep helping.
Kentucky Emergency Management (KYEM) has a page with information on relief agencies and a form to sign-up for donations and volunteering. Additionally, the Red Cross is continuing to take financial contributions for the Kentucky Cares Campaign.
The path to recovery is just beginning. We have seen disasters strike before, but one thing has remained constant: our will to rise and rebuild. This will hold true again, as Kentucky rallies around the common cause to emerge from this tragedy a stronger and tighter Commonwealth.