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Kentucky flood survivors need volunteer help—now

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Flood survivors in hard-hit eastern Kentucky seriously need volunteers—and Mennonite Disaster Service (MDS) is trying to help.

“The need is overwhelming,” said Larry Stoner, MDS regional operations coordinator, describing the aftermath of the historic deluge in late July that killed 38 people in a rural corner of the state.

Only one percent of properties in the hardest-hit counties of the state have federal flood insurance, government records show.

“We would like to respond in several communities—in Breathitt, Clay and Perry counties—and we just don’t have the volunteers right now,” said Stoner.

Early Response Teams from MDS are already on the ground, mucking out homes before harmful mold gets worse. Many homes took in several feet of water.

MDS is ready to receive more volunteers with accommodations at two sites—Hindman United Methodist Church and Camp Nathanael in Emmalena. MDS will also provide tools, food, and leadership support.

“All of the wet debris, furniture, flooring, and wall board that’s wet has to be taken out,” said Stoner. “Volunteers will be mucking out a messy, flooded house.”

Time is of the essence, he added.

“Mold began growing the day after the water went down and it will only get worse as time goes on,” he said. “These houses will deteriorate if we don’t act quickly.”

Can you spare a couple of days?

If volunteers could spare anywhere from a couple days to a week, flood survivors would be much further along on the road to recovery, said Deanna Frey, MDS volunteer coordinator for weekly volunteers.

“Please pray about coming to Kentucky,” said Frey. “We are ready for you. Flood survivors are waiting for you—they are waiting for hope to come to the hollows so they don’t feel forgotten.”

She acknowledged that people are busy with their own lives during late August and early September, and they don’t often think of volunteering.

“But this is urgent,” she said. “We need to respond now. Please, sign up.”

For more information about volunteering with MDS or to sign up, please visit www.mds.org.

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