Nature packs another wallop with snow on top of those suffering tornado damage

Here and Now

The misery wrought by a string of early, violent tornadoes across the Midwest last week is being complicated by a new round of snow that’s fallen on some of the badly damaged areas in Illinois, Kentucky and elsewhere.

At least 39 people across five states were killed by storms that destroyed homes and businesses across a wide swath of states.

Tommy Tapscott, associate pastor at First Baptist Church in East Bernstadt, Ky., said his church has become a center of relief efforts, but some supply distribution, such as bedding, is being put on hold because with the snow and damage, there’s no where to put the material that it will stay safe.

“There’s still a lot of uncertainty for people because of the devastation, because of the tornado. We’re just trying to bring as much relief as we can, as much hope as we can, to those who are hurting,” Tapscott said.

Tapscott said people in his community really are shocked by what they’ve been to. Some 20 to 25 homes were totally destroyed and another 50 households suffered serious damage.

A lot of the fatalities came among people who live in mobile home trailers. Tapscott said his church has long told people who live in trailers nearby that they can come to the church in severe weather. But, so far, he said, there’s been no talk of requiring trailer park owners to build community storm shelters.

“We’re not talking about trailer parks here that were devastated. We’re talking about people who own land who just lived in trailers,” Tapscott said.

But even those folks closest to the church didn’t come when the storm drew close. Tapscott said they feared looters would attack as soon as they left.

Churches across the Midwest have played an important role in connecting survivors with information. At one church, an information-sharing session was held during services.

There’s a new role for Tapscott’s church as well. Survivors are bringing important documents, like insurance policies, to the church where they can be stored safely in filing cabinets.

“We’re trying to meet immediate needs right now,” he said. “But we’re finding there’s going to be long-term care that we’re going to have to provide.”

Tapscott said the church is offering counseling sessions for survivors as well.

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