Families still rebuilding one year after tornadoes ravaged through Western Kentucky

Feeding America, Kentucky's Heartland quickly responded to help families in need

(WESTERN KENTUCKY) —  This week marks one year since deadly and devastating tornado destroyed iconic streets, businesses and cities in the western part of the state.

As communities get ready to commemorate the fateful day, some continue to rebuild what they can.

“It means that we’re going to eventually get settled again and have our home, we don’t have to worry about the food so we can worry about working on our house and getting it done,” says Donna Baird, who alongside her husband and granddaughter lost their home.

While the tornado is a memory for some that continue to linger, it’s also a reminder of the thin line between life and death.

“I was in the living room, I was looking out the front door and I just shut it was gonna walk across the living room and get down on Lily and get into the master closet. Well, when I got to the bedroom door, the wall fell and hit me and knocked me back across the living room, flat on my back,” adds Donna’s husband, Claude Baird, recalling the fateful day.

The Baird family was then faced with the reality of having a roof over their head or starve.
Claude Baird says they’re grateful to have survived, adding that the weeks to come were the hardest.

“Every penny we’ve had and was getting was going to give us something to live in and that don’t leave a whole lot from food,” he adds.

One of the nonprofits that jumped into action to help, was Feeding America, Kentucky’s Heartland.

“Over the last year since the tornadoes, we have provided enough food for over 5 million meals to our partner agencies to assist those in need. We have also re-granted funds to our partner agencies in those areas, so they can build capacity to continue to serve for years to come,” says Jamie Sizemore, the executive director, at Feeding America, Kentucky’s Heartland.

“Feeding America was able to be that resource for us so that when we were able to secure food for families, that took one less burden off of them. Just it made it easier if you don’t have to worry about food you can focus on okay, I don’t have clean clothes, or I don’t have clothes period. So that was just one less thing that those families during the tornado had to worry about,” added Missie Gill, Food Ministry Director at Christ Tabernacle Food Pantry.

And as the year anniversary inches closer and closer, “it’s going to take years for these families to recover, it’s going to take years for them to get back on their feet. Some of them will never fully recover from this,” added Sizemore.

And although the progress has been slow but steady, some are just grateful.

Feeding America, Kentucky’s Heartland has also allocated another $500, 000 dedicated to aiding recovery efforts in 2023.

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