August 22, 2013

CWS Kits and Blankets Aid Disaster-battered Kentucky County

Students at John M. Stumbo Elementary School in Grethel, Ky., with their CWS School Kits
Students at John M. Stumbo Elementary School in Grethel, Ky., with their CWS School Kits. While their school was spared in the August 12 flash flooding, the homes of many of these children and their families were flooded. Photo: courtesy Sandy Gunnell

CWS Kits and Blankets are bringing practical comfort to people in Floyd County, Ky., who are struggling amidst multiple disasters – including flash flooding that overwhelmed schools and homes on August 12.

The flooding further battered a county already devastated by 80 percent unemployment due to the collapse of coal mining and still recovering from deadly tornados that swept Eastern and Southern Kentucky last year, killing 25 people and causing millions of dollars in damage.

Extending solace is a local group called Sisters of Hope Charitable Community and Disaster Relief, based in Garrett, Ky.  Last year and again earlier this month, the group distributed CWS School Kits to families unable to afford school supplies for their children. 

Director Sandy Gunnell said the 510 CWS School Kits arrived just in time for the start of this school year.  The morning of August 7, kindergarten through sixth grade teachers compiled the names of students who came without any school supplies.  That afternoon, Gunnell’s group delivered kits to the teachers for those students in need of them.

“I also took CWS School Kits to the local homeless shelter, where there were two families in need of school supplies,” Gunnell said.

A home in Floyd County, Ky., affected by flash flooding
A home in Floyd County, Ky., affected by flash flooding August 12. Photo: courtesy Sandy Gunnell

“The kids don’t really understand the situation their parents are in, that they cannot afford the things they need for school.  Every year, the list of supplies the schools require students to bring gets more complicated.  It’s too much for these parents.  It feels really overwhelming to them to get all the things on the list the school requires.

“The kits are a blessing to the parents to have the supplies their kids need to go to school like everyone else,” she said.

Barely had the CWS School Kits been distributed when, on August 12, Floyd County was hit by flash flooding.  Some areas got “more than four inches of rain in a 35-minute time,” Gunnell said.

“I myself was flooded – 6.5 feet of water in my basement area.  Everything was lost, including my three vehicles,” she noted, then quickly turned the focus back on the needs of others in her community.

“We have two schools that sustained flooding, and numerous houses and trailers,” she said.  “We have numerous people in need, along with two school systems.  Can CWS offer supplies for our area?”

CWS responded with 300 CWS Emergency Clean Up Buckets, 300 CWS Blankets, 300 CWS Baby Care Kits, 300 CWS Hygiene Kits, and 300 more CWS School Kits.

Gunnell said these “much-needed items were distributed not only directly to the schools but to all those located in the hollows and hills that received damage.  Our local assisted living home also got flooded.  The CWS Emergency Clean Up Buckets were a great help to them.

“Without these supplies many would not have received any type of assistance for their loss,” she said.  “We were able to help many in their time of need.  Our community will forever be grateful for all that CWS has done for us during our times of loss.”

Editor’s note: CWS has a good stock of Hygiene Kits, but more CWS School and Baby Care Kits and Emergency Clean Up Buckets are needed to respond to pending requests and future emergencies.  Information on various kits that may be compiled and donated to CWS may be found at www.cwsglobal.og/get-involved/kits.