Disaster relief team heads north to clean up mess

Published 4:21 pm Thursday, February 12, 2009

Early next Thursday morning, Stephen Gladstone and four others plan to hop in a truck and head north toward Richmond, Ky.

“The community we plan to help out has a lot of older people who really need our assistance,” he said. “From what I understand, it’s pretty torn up.”

The crew will have a seven-hour trek to help them prepare for the damage they’ll find. At the end of January, an ice storm hit the state. The storm was attributed to more than 30 deaths. It left 50,000 people, scattered across 101 counties and 75 cities, without power.

Gladstone said he knows what to expect, to an extent.

Downed power lines, mucky conditions and frustrated families all tend to be on the agenda after an ice storm. The Shelby Baptist Association’s disaster recovery team stepped in to help families last year in Missouri. About five volunteers traveled to Holts Summit, Mo., directly after a storm crippled that town.

There, they found tree limbs that had been broken off by the weight of icicles that formed. Just getting one limb out of the way took a lot of chainsaw work. Gladstone said this time things will be a bit different.

Kentucky’s storm passed through about two weeks ago. So, even though the ice has melted away, it has left mud-filled yards in its tracks.

Gladstone said when they arrive, they will be assigned to clean-up work. These duties can range from picking up broken limbs to dragging a more than 150-year-old tree off of a house.

“A level one home is where trees are on top of the home and there are branches in the living room,” Gladstone explained. “I doubt there’ll be much ice left, but we’ll have other challenges.”

To help push past those challenges, especially the century-old trees, Gladstone plans to take a Bobcat tractor. He’ll also try and take multiple volunteers. Every volunteer that provides services with the disaster relief team must be certified to do so.

Gladstone said it could sometimes be a dangerous effort. When it’s not that, it is a tiresome effort. The volunteers usually try and tackle at least two projects a day. If you are a trained volunteer, and think you might be able to be of help, call Gladstone at 612-6260.