Community partners come together to offer winter storm relief
Appalachia (February 17, 2021) – Children, their families, and seniors have found themselves struggling to find shelter as power outages cascade across the state. In Rockcastle County, the manager of Christian Appalachian Project’s Disaster Relief Program for Christian Appalachian Project, Robyn Renner, had to be picked up by the local fire department in order to set up a warming shelter at Rockcastle Middle School.
“We knew this storm was going to have great impact in our communities,” said Renner, the former chair of the Kentucky Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster (VOAD). “We are only seeing the beginning of what will be left behind after this freezing rain mixed with snow and sleet.”
The first resident to show up at the shelter needed life-saving electricity. He had recently come home from the hospital with a machine to keep his heart beating. He spent the night at the fire department and is now at the shelter. They ended up with 19 residents overnight, plus four members of the Kentucky National Guard.
“These are desperate times,” Renner added. “With the roads being nearly impassable, we are trying to get resources to people in need.”
CAP has had a long-standing partnership with Rockcastle County Schools, and those relationships naturally kicked in to help the community.
“We are working to feed people tonight and already planning what we can do for breakfast. We have six volunteers who were already here for a year of service across CAP programs but are now finding these additional needs to be addressed,” Renner said. The school has made available all of the food in the cafeteria, and Renner is working to coordinate with CAP’s Grateful Bread Food Pantry to get additional food and supplies.
“We couldn’t do this without the local first responders,” she added. The fire department picked up Renner and the volunteers to ensure they could safely arrive and set up the shelter. “In times of crisis, we just pull together. We help each other the best way we know how.”
Renner is also working to coordinate CAP staff in Jackson County where the local community is working to staff a shelter there. CAP staff in Johnson, Martin, and Floyd Counties have been impacted with power outages and fallen trees that are blocking roads but are also looking for ways to help their neighbors.
“This isn’t over,” said Renner, who has previously led teams to clean up after flash flooding in Eastern Kentucky. “We have the immediate needs now to keep people safe, warm, and dry. But we will be here to help people in the aftermath as well.”
Renner and her team are planning and gathering information to respond quickly and effectively to help people in need in Appalachia. For more information about how to support our disaster relief efforts and to receive updates, visit our website at www.christianapp.org/snow21 or our Facebook page at www.facebook.com/ChrisAppProj.