United States Tornado Relief Efforts Show “Church at Its Best”

St. Jerome’s Church in Fancy Farm, Ky., Became a makeshift shelter for storm survivors over the weekend of December 11-12 and changed on December 13 to become a site for the distribution of supplies from relief.

Four tornadoes, including one that cut a 225-mile-long path through four U.S. states, struck devastating hits west of Kentucky on the night of December 10. Tornadoes left entire communities in shambles.

Mayfield and Dawson Springs, Ky., Were virtually destroyed by storms. The Catholic churches in both cities suffered heavy damage.

As of December 14, at least 74 people have been confirmed dead in Bluegrass state, according to Governor Andy Beshear. Search and rescue efforts were still ongoing.

Twelve miles from Mayfield, Saint-Jérôme responded with the spirit of Gaudete on Sunday, said Sister Martha Keller, an Ursuline sister from Mount Saint-Joseph, Ky., Who is a pastoral associate of Saint-Jérôme.

“This is the church at its best,” she said, speaking through tears after recounting the losses people have suffered. “People are talking about Christmas and what we can do. But this is the church at its best.

Volunteers took to the road yesterday and entered a mobile home and found two elderly people huddled together who were dead

“This weekend was Gaudete Sunday. We can rejoice because there are people who are Christ for one another,” she said. The record, Journal of the Archdiocese of Louisville.

Gaudete Sunday is the third Sunday in Advent; “gaudete” means rejoice.

At the beginning of December 11, the day after the tornadoes, the church hall began to house families who survived the storms but lost their homes – a total of 25 people.

They arrived with nothing but the clothes they were wearing – soaked clothes.

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“They put on clean clothes and we washed the clothes they had,” she said. Beyond that, “there are heart-wrenching stories,” she added.

“On Saturday afternoon there was this mother (in the shelter) looking upset and I sat down and said, ‘What can I do?’ I thought maybe she was thinking about her next steps, ”Sister Keller said.“ She said, ‘I can’t even concentrate. My best friend lost her 3 year old daughter in the storm. ‘”

“Volunteers took to the road yesterday and entered a mobile home and found two elderly people huddled together who were dead. A woman was found in a tree,” she said. declared.

“We had parishioners outside of Fancy Farm who lost their homes. They were in their basements,” she said.

“We ran near the seat of our pants while waiting for the Red Cross and FEMA to give us direction,” she added. FEMA is the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

On December 13, Sister Keller said that Saint-Jérôme, located in Graves County, had received instructions from the American Red Cross. The parish hall, ill-suited to provide long-term shelter, moved to a supply distribution site.

She noted that people need cash the most, especially in the form of Visa gift cards that can be used anywhere.

“We tried to get Visa cards so they could get gas, hotels, clothes. They don’t want donated clothes because we don’t know the sizes” and it wouldn’t be possible to ‘getting the right sizes for the right people, she said. noted.

The Archdiocese of Louisville to host a fundraiser to help storm survivors over the weekend of December 18-19

Another need, access to clean water, is being addressed in the long term by Water with Blessings, based in Louisville. The charity sent 20 Sawyer PointOne water filters to Saint-Jérôme. Filters can be distributed to families or groups to share access to safe drinking water.

Sister Keller noted that people are more familiar and comfortable with bottled water and may be a little skeptical of filters at first. She was planning to provide training on the use of water filters, which she and her parishioners have done in the past with people who do not have access to safe drinking water in Jamaica.

Filters can clean water from precipitation, springs, old wells and other sources to reduce reliance on bottled water. The Water with Blessings website – waterwithblessings.org – has information about the organization and how to support efforts to provide water filters to storm survivors.

The Archdiocese of Louisville will be holding a fundraiser to help storm survivors over the weekend of December 18-19. The collection will be directed to the Diocese of Owensboro, which covers western Kentucky.

The donations will be used to “meet immediate emergency humanitarian needs and will contribute to long-term reconstruction and recovery efforts as well as all pastoral and reconstruction needs of the church,” according to an announcement by the Archbishop. by Louisville Joseph E. Kurtz.

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