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Thursday, May 5, 2016

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Thursday, February 28, 2008

Sharp County officials say thank you for the help

Sharp County Judge Larry Brown and Office of Emergency Management Coordinator Gene Moore want to thank all volunteers, churches, business organizations, volunteer teams, both local and out-of-state, police departments, fire stations, emergency personnel, caring and concerned citizens of Sharp County and anyone who joined in the recovery effort of Highland and Ash Flat after the Feb. 5 tornado.

We appreciate the representatives from FEMA?and ADEM who were immediately on site after bing informed of the disaster situation.

Words alone cannot express our gratitude.

Tornado made changes, brought lots of help to SC

On Feb. 5, 2008, life as we knew it in Sharp County was about to change drastically. As my family watched the news, we knew a tornado was coming our way, but we had no idea what devastation would be left behind. As the power went out in Ash Flat ,my husband and I stood outside on our deck to look at the sky. When the lightening flashed, we saw the tornado just over the hill. Our family took shelter in the basement. We were very fortunate our home was spared. At sunrise we realized how close it came to us.

As a case manager with White River Area Agency on Aging, Inc., I had the opportunity to volunteer at a Disaster Relief Center in Tyler, Texas, after hurricanes Katrina and Rita hit Louisiana and Mississippi. Folks were amazed we came to help them. Now the shoe was on the other foot; White River Area Agency on Aging could help our folks here at home. I went to the Red Cross Disaster Center set up in the Church of Christ in Ash Flat. I began assisting the Red Cross with finding housing in the area for displaced folks and letting them know what our local resources were. The Red Cross did a wonderful job getting help out as soon as they could. Many times victims just needed someone to listen to their stories and give them a chance to grieve over their loss of items, many so precious money could never replace. As the emergent needs slowed down, Red Cross volunteers began outreach in the community taking food and supplies to folks that could not get out, such as our elderly. The Red Cross center is still in place and continues to reach out to folks hit by the tornado. We cannot thank them enough.

My heart was touched many times by the caring and kindness shown by folks coming from all over Arkansas to help. Since I know the area, as volunteers came in the center wanting to help with clean up, I would take them from one place to another. The looks on the faces of victims that had lost everything was payment enough. They were all extremely grateful for the help.

A very big thank you needs to go out to the fire department of Viola and our OEM Coordinator Gene Moore. I found one of my clients in her home safe but without electricity. Since she has an electric wheel chair and electric hospital bed, she desperately needed power. She was able to keep warm with blankets but had no heat. I reported my findings to Gene, and he went to work and found a generator at the fire department in Viola. They were preparing to deliver it when her power was restored, and it was not needed.

Many folks from the area and the churches worked long hours preparing food and unloading truck after truck of food and supplies. The part I played was small when I look at the big picture, the loving hearts and kindness of everyone who helped our community, we cannot thank you enough.

If you are in need of assistance and you are not sure where to turn, White River Area Agency on Aging in Ash Flat can be reached at 870-994-3090, and we will help in anyway we possibly can.

Lori Gentry

Counseling Support Manager

White River Area Agency on Aging Inc.