XENIA — A month after devastating floods inundated small, rural communities in Eastern Kentucky, teams of volunteers from Beavercreek, Fairborn and Xenia spent a weekend in the area participating in a massive clean-up.
These “Helping Hands” volunteers were part of a massive effort involving members from more than 200 congregations of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, coming from central and western Kentucky, Indiana, Ohio, Tennessee, Virginia, and West Virginia. They convened at the church’s volunteer command center in Martin to receive their work orders submitted through the Crisis Cleanup Hotline. At last report, more than 2,800 volunteers had completed more than 27,000 hours of work.
The volunteers found devastation in the locations they entered, reminding some of the tornado damage suffered by their own community three years ago. A team from Beavercreek assisted a widow, Elizabeth Shehee, who lived alone, with clearing debris and mud from her property, and thoroughly cleaning and organizing the outlying buildings behind her home. The joy and relief expressed by her made the team work harder to relieve the burdens the flood placed upon her. The team left her with a prayer and many hugs before heading off to try and locate the next assignment.
Saturday afternoon and Sunday morning the Fairborn and Xenia teams arrived to help a woman with not only her 87-year-old mother’s house but also with the attached general store that she managed.
“It will take a year to clear that out,” is what the teams were told regarding the store. They accepted the challenge and went to work. They cleared out multiple rooms, including many full closets of beautiful clothes and possessions that she treasured, and put them on the curb to be hauled away. The personal items, debris, and mud were cleared by Sunday late morning and these eager teams were ready to begin the gutting process.
But as volunteer John Andrus stated, “The gutting process is still to be done and as much as we wanted to tear into that process we were out of time. (We left her with a) property that was cleared out and could finally start drying. Another group will be lucky enough to gut the house.”
As in any service effort after a disaster the friendships made among team members, and with the people they served became the highlight of the endeavor.
There were several teams from the county. Some of the participants included Daniel Abramson, Mark Gram, Craig Przybyla, Dallin Przybyla, Elizabeth Przybyla, Will Przybyla, Indiana Smith, Mike Smith, Nathan Tiemeier, Rob Young, Karen Young, John Andrus, Kayleen Andrus, Paul Bennington, Valerie Bennington, Ann Bennington, Lance Brown, Amy Brown, Katie Brown, Porter Brown, Chris Gullion, Dana Morrill, and Shelby Morrill.