Tornado Victims Give Advice for Volunteering

By: Lauren Schmoll Email
By: Lauren Schmoll Email

WEST LIBERTY, Ky. (WSAZ) -- These days, Reda Harper can sit on her back porch, and smile. A year ago, it was a much different story.

“I had my porch left here and I would come day after day and sit here on the porch and cry,” Harper said.

The tornado took her house, and most of those around her. Now, there are new homes going up and her home is almost back to normal. Much of that's thanks to volunteers.

“It was just good to see how loving people was,” Harper said. “Strangers. Just strangers came in and a lot of them just came by and talked. And that was encouraging.”

There's still a lot to be done. Right next door, a volunteer team from a Baptist church in South Carolina is working on building two houses, through Habitat for Humanity. Russ Fox says, never be afraid to take that first step in helping out.

“Go,” Fox said. “Say hey, I've never done it. Go to a group that has, they'll teach you. If you're willing to learn, people will teach you how to do it. And you'll learn. It's that simple. Get out and try.”

Folks around here say one of the biggest things you can do to help is simply not forget that there still will be needs more than a year later.

“It's over a year now for us and we still have several projects that need to be done,” Stephen Howard said. “Several people that are still trying to recover.”

Stephen Howard leads the volunteers for the long term recovery team. He says if you're looking to help out in Oklahoma, you may want to give it some time.

“Right now, just be patient and wait,” Howard said. “There's a lot of organization that has to come and get settled.”

His one warning: Don't show up unannounced. Get with a group, come up with a plan, and take some advice from someone who's been there.

“What does a tornado victim need? What can people do to help out?” WSAZ asked.

“Give them their love,” Harper said. “And their concern.”

West Liberty still needs volunteers. They’re only booked through July, and there is a lot of work that will still need done this fall.

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