contributed by Angela Nicholas, Red Cross Volunteer
The Jackson family has lived on Daisy Hill in Borden for generations, building homes within earshot of what was the ancestral home–the key word being “was.” The more than 102-year-old house no longer exists, destroyed by the March 2 tornadoes that swept through Kentucky and Indiana leaving hundreds of people homeless including most of the Jackson’s extended family. With little warning on March 3, dozens of family members and neighbors huddled together in the basements of two of the sturdiest homes on the hill and in the direct path of the storm. After the tornado passed, there was little left but rubble as the houses and trees that once dotted the landscape were left a mangled mess. The worst part, according to family members, was hearing the screams for help.
“We were going to stay in my basement but my cousin stopped by and urged us to go to Uncle Larry “Bub” Jackson’s next door. We watched it (the tornado) take the church down to the frame then we ran in and like two seconds later it hit us,” said Amy Chumbley, who huddled in the basement with about 25 members of the family and neighbors. “We have a disabled family member so some of them huddled in the bathroom upstairs. After it hit, we opened the doors and watched it take the next house. It was horrifying. All I remember is my 2-year-old grandbaby crying and the house shaking. Afterwards, my grandbaby screamed bloody murder because he didn’t want to go outside.”
Also screaming for help were family members down the street in the other basement. They had to be dug out from under the debris. Autumn White, a 24-year-old family member who has taken on the responsibility for coordinating the influx of supplies on the hill, said the family was fortunate no one lost their life. One aunt lost two toes but received less injury than the man who pushed her under a table to safety just before debris fell on him crushing his legs. Two older men in a nearby mobile home rode out the storm with their trailer tumbling, landing one of them in a ditch. Family members began search and rescue using a four-wheeler type vehicle until emergency help could arrive.
A proud and independent lot, the family and neighbors have pulled together as a community to deal with their situation. They appear strong on the surface, but in the dark of night, nothing can stop the nightmares. “We’re all having nightmares,” said White, who has spent every day since the storm coordinating a large trailer donated by the Kimball Office in Salem now filled with Red Cross and other donated supplies. FEMA has also added a heated trailer and tent set up as an informal community command center for the residents. Red Cross mental health volunteers have made several visits and are available to help those who want to talk about their fears and to offer guidance on how to deal with the nightmares and bad memories.
Red Cross assistance has also been provided to the residents of Daisy Hill in the form of hot mobile meals delivered twice daily by volunteer Emergency Response Vehicle (ERV) teams. ERV driver Gilbert Abney has spent the last 14 days driving up the hill to take food, hot coffee and hot chocolate and has bonded with the family. “He calls me Pink Panther because I wear pink all the time,” White said. “Of all the people we’ve had bring things, he’s my favorite. He is always chipper and leaves us all smiling.”
Chumbley said,”Everybody’s been wonderful. Never in my wildest dreams could I have imagined the kind of help we’ve received.” In addition to help with food and clothing, Chumbley received Red Cross assistance replacing some destroyed medications.
As for White, a now unemployed CNA because of the time she has taken to help her family, is moving forward with wedding plans for Saturday at New Hope Tabernacle in Sellersburg, hoping people remember to come. “There are a lot of destroyed wedding invitations out there,” she said. Last Friday, what was left of the ancestral home was knocked down with debris burned in the hole that was once the basement. “ It was like a funeral,” she said. “Everybody was bawling and saying goodbye to our history.”
How You Can Help
You can help people affected by disasters by making a donation to support American Red Cross Disaster Relief. You may donate at www.redcross.org or call 1-800-733-2767. Contributions may also be sent to your local chapter or American Red Cross, P. O. Box 37243, Washington, DC 20013. On rare occasions when donations exceed Red Cross expenses for a specific disaster, contributions are used to prepare for and serve victims of other disasters.