The March 2 tornadoes left several Eastern Kentucky communities in near ruin, and a local faith-based organization is reaching out to one such community to help it get back on its feet.
The Wilmore based Go International has been organizing relief efforts to the Magoffin County city of Salyersville, and the need is great, homeland missions coordinator Roger Clark said.
“When I say recovery, it is the urgent need to get people’s property secured and in the ‘dry,’ if possible,” Clark said. “Debris removal and yard cleanup is part of that effort as well. To date, we have assisted another church in Salyersville with meal preparation.”
Clark said Go International’s creed is simply to lend a helping hand.
“Go has tried to fit in wherever God leads us, and wherever we find people in need of what we can offer,” Clark said. “We are not large in numbers, but (we) are trying to live out our Christian belief by serving the needs of others.”
Clark said a key element in the recovery effort is the number of churches that have pitched in to help.
“We like the idea of partnering with churches in the impact zone but certainly have not limited our help to only churches,” he said. “I know of one church who sponsored a carnival on one day and people from Go went to assist that effort.”
Clark said the carnival was a great event that helped children deal with the tragedy and give them a “fun” day at the same time.
Overall, Clark said the relief efforts are going well.
“It amazes me to see how, organized or not, things get done,” he said. “I must mention the efforts from four local churches who have set up a volunteer shelter center in the former Middle Fork Elementary School outside Salyersville. Volunteers are able to stay there for free, and they provide almost everything you need — three meals a day, hot showers, towels, personal hygiene, a cot, and they even do your laundry, if needed.”
The biggest challenge has been in the area of logistics.
“We have many, many people wanting to help in some way on one side of the crisis and on the other side is all of those who were devastated by this storm,” Clark said. “Connecting resources of time, money and contribution articles is a very big issue and one that is not easily overcome.”
Clark said the situation is ever-evolving.
“The situation changes moment by moment, and what was a need yesterday is not a need today,” he said. “The next big issue is coordinating of people to be of use. This is why, when possible, I think it is good to partner with other agencies to come along side of them to assist because often, they have resources on the ground in the impact areas that we at Go may not have.”
Go has been involved in other relief efforts, including Alabama, and next month, they plan to travel to Joplin, Mo., for continued relief efforts. Clark said relief efforts are not a quick fix, by any means.
“We will do what we can in the initial cleanup phase,” he said. “However, as we have experienced in Alabama and Joplin, the rebuild stage will take one to three years. We will continue to evaluate the needs of Kentucky, but I am confident that we will be putting together work teams over the next couple years to assist.”
Clark said Go is always looking for volunteers to assist. Anyone wishing to assist can contact Go International at 859-858-3171 or visit www.gointernational.org.