Heartland Update


This May, a group from York travelled to Kentucky to participate in the continuing recovery work there in the wake of last winter’s devastating tornadoes. While there are some signs of rebuilding, many efforts have been slowed by a variety of factors: a cold and stormy winter, a large drop in the number of volunteers serving in smaller communities, and a shortage of staff in administrative roles that are processing requests for help.

Our team spent the majority of the week serving in the small town of Bremen, Kentucky. Eleven lives were lost in Bremen and many other residents experienced the total loss of their homes during the storm. Among the folks that we got to speak with, most are still staying with family or living out of trailers while waiting for their homes to be rebuilt. The spring regrowth surrounding the disaster area has only highlighted the extent to which the tornado reshaped the landscape, which is still littered with giant piles of debris.

One of our work days was spent cleaning the yard of a family whose new construction had just begun. A task like raking can feel so small in the midst of such a large catastrophe, but the homeowner gave us an important reminder: “When folks like you come here to help it takes away some of that desperation that sets in; that goes away and gets replaced with a little bit of joy.”

The team carried that idea with them through the remainder of the week: from helping a woman organize a warehouse full of donations that she has been managing on her own for months to building a playground for a grandma who watches her grandchildren every day. Each day we tried to provide hope to people who are still grieving the loss of lives and livelihoods, the loss of homes and the loss of normalcy.

Servants will continue building relationships in Bremen and the surrounding communities throughout their rebuilding process; if you want to join a future trip to the heartland, please send an email to volunteer@servants.org