Solidarity organizes in Mayfield after deadly tornado

A boss helps his employee, young people clear the house of an elderly person, collections follow one another: in Mayfield, a town damaged by the passage of a tornado in the heart of the United States, solidarity between residents s ‘organizes under the comforting eye of their God.

The state of Kentucky, where Mayfield is located, is part of the “Bible Belt”, the “belt of the Bible”, where the life is still organized around Christian churches a lot and, on Sunday, the inhabitants often mentioned their faith as a motor to move forward, or to help.

Sitting on a chair in front of what remains of his house , Marty Janes stares blankly as young volunteers from a local church bustle around him.

A stone’s throw from the city center, his neighborhood was devastated by the tornado. A tree fell on its front steps, its roof collapsed, the exterior walls of the facade were torn off.

“It was like a nuclear war”, he says. He found himself trapped in the back of the house, his wife, Theresa, was in the bedroom facing the street. Rescued by the firefighters, the couple were separated for two days, he says, with tears in his eyes.

He did not want his wife to see the damage to the house, now uninhabitable. “I’m homeless,” said the 59 year-old man, who only recovered an old photo from his shed diploma and two American flags, immediately replanted in front of the gutted building.

The friends of his young neighbor have come to help him clear the land, but the task is immense. Coming to the rescue, the young volunteers of the church cut the walls and interior walls with a saw, and empty the pieces of furniture or unusable equipment.

Other volunteers chop the tree lying on the house.

– “Much love” – ​​

People hug in the rubble of a building destroyed by a tornado in Mayfield on 12 December 2021 (AFP – Brendan Smialowski) A little further, Vanessa Cooper, 38 years, tries to recover what she can his mother’s apartment, of which only two walls remain. Three friends were clearing the rubble and clearing the debris while she searched the damaged furniture.

“These people have already helped me in the past, they know I can’t do it myself- even, ”says this employee of a technical high school in the city who is disabled in one leg.

“”I don’t know what the future will hold, but God has already made me overcome many trials”, she says.

Solidarity comes naturally in small communities, explains Vanessa Cooper, as a neighbor asks her if she needs anything. In Mayfield, Town of 10. 504. inhabitants, “we have always been close to each other, we show a lot of love”.

Faced with the number of homeless people, several accommodation centers have been set up in the many places of worship in the region.

In Paducah, about forty kilometers north of Mayfield, Pastor Hank Garner turned Lone Oak Baptist Church into a drop-in and collection center.

“People wanted to do whatever they could to help family and friends,” explains he.

“Knowing that their neighbors were in urgent need of help, they began to collect whatever could be useful”, adds the pastor, while the water and the electricity are cut in Mayfield.

Among his collection: warm clothes, blankets, baby and basic products, bottled water and food.

Aerial view of Mayfield, Kentucky on 10 December 2021 (AFP – Brendan Smialowski) Refugee in this center, Randy Guennel, a retiree of 79 years, is a miracle. He survived two days with his sick wife in their home. Sunday he wrote “help” on a pizza box and put it on his mailbox.

“Wonderful members of this church saw it, and we brought them here, “he says with sobs in his voice.