KOKOMO, Ind. (November 23, 2013) – More than 1,000 Hoosiers answered a call for help and rallied around Kokomo on Saturday, nearly a week after two tornadoes ripped through the central Indiana city.
The United Way of Howard County organized the volunteers, who dedicated their chilly weekend day to picking up as much debris as possible.
Hundreds of homes were damaged and more than 50 were destroyed this past Sunday, when the two tornadoes touched down.
“Monday, when I came out on the course here, I just couldn’t believe it,” said Benny Wisher, who works at the American Legion Post 6 Golf Course, but spent the day volunteering his time to clean it up.
Wisher said the storms knocked down or damaged 73 trees on the grounds, a popular community spot, and that it was littered with debris.
“There’s probably four or five buildings across the street that got damaged pretty hard and we’ve got the roofs from over there over here,” he said.
All throughout town, volunteers like Sabrina Parnham came from in and around Howard County to help. Parnham also took extra time to put what appeared to be people’s sentimental items in a bucket, which she then gave to the Red Cross to help reconnect those things with their owners.
“I found a picture of a little baby in a frame,” Parnham said. “It’s just quite precious and really just tells you the devastation that we have. But the community’s coming out and it’s a wonderful thing, so I hope we find the owner of this little picture.”
The president of the United Way of Howard County, Abbie Smith, said the floods earlier this year helped prepare community activists to quickly organize a response to Sunday’s storms.
“Hopefully what we can do today is finish up the debris cleanup,” Smith said. “Soon, we will transition into this long-term recovery process because we’re going to be at this for quite a few months.”
Anyone who could not make it out to this volunteer cleanup day is encouraged to visit the United Way of Howard County’s website for information on how to help in the future.