How your donations helped tornado victims recover

MAYFIELD, Ky. (KFVS) — Brian and Heather Ashley still can’t believe their eyes when they look at what they used to call home outside of Mayfield, Ky.

“It was beautiful, I loved my house,” said Brian Ashley.

The tornado of December 10, 2021 destroyed almost everything.

“It was heartbreaking, you know, everything you worked for your whole life,” Ashley said.

Even with so much devastation, they still count their blessings.

“It made us realize what’s important, our lives,” Ashley said. “Four of our neighbors lost their lives. One of our neighbors was dumped. We just realized how blessed and lucky we are. I’m so thankful for that.

He also has a lot of gratitude for the many people who have helped him and his family over the past two months.

“I really wish I could tell people how much I appreciate everything they do for us,” Ashley said.

The Ashley family said they had to give up their home insurance policy after Brian suffered a car accident which left him unable to work.

He said he couldn’t afford the insurance and he no longer had a home or a backup plan.

Many religious groups and organizations are helping out.

“The Salvation Army gave us five $50 apiece gift cards,” Ashley said. They were one of the easiest organizations because they didn’t ask a ton of questions. »

He said that with this money they were able to buy some of the basic things they needed, like pots and pans.

The Salvation Army has raised millions of dollars over the past two months to help those affected by December’s tornadoes.

According to Aimee Murry, divisional director of communications for the Salvation Army, they raised more than $3.4 million for disaster relief in Arkansas and Kentucky.

This includes money from the Heal the Heartland campaign.

This effort raised approximately $650,000.

Many of you contributed to this when you saw the call for help on KFVS-12 and opened your hearts and wallets just after the storms passed.

“There are not enough thanks that could ever repay all the dedication and compassion I have seen over the past two months,” Lt. David Donegan said.

Salvation Army Lt. David Donegan works out of the Paducah office.

He has many apps in his office that represent people they have recently helped.

“Our office has donated over $100,000 in disaster relief since the December tornado, and that’s just our office,” Donegan said.

According to the Salvation Army, so far they’ve spent about $1 million in Arkansas and Kentucky on food, recovery supplies and gift cards for families.

Aimee Murry also said the Salvation Army has committed about $2.6 million for long-term recovery plans that are set to end Dec. 31, 2023.

Figures for Illinois, Missouri and Tennessee were not readily available.

“You don’t realize how much it costs until you have to replace it and you have to replace it before you get any money from the insurance company, before you get any money from FEMA,” Lt. Donegan said.

A family Heartland News met in Mayfield said FEMA denied their application.

Right now, they rely on the generosity of others.

“We lost everything,” Heather Cole said. “We took out a bit of our clothes.”

Rayburn Sanderson and Heather Cole were living in an apartment building in Mayfield when the tornado hit.

“I watched it rain both ways and the whole sky lit up,” Rayburn Sanderson said.

Their building is still standing, but Sanderson said almost everything inside was in ruins.

“Man, we’re ready to go home,” Sanderson said.

He said it was not easy to get help.

Sanderson and Cole were unaware of the resources available through the Salvation Army until we told them.

“[People need] a place to live, help open utilities, find a new place, clothes, food, everything,” Cole said.

Lt. Donegan said resources were still available.

“Either we’re going to meet them here or we’re an army on the move… we’re going to come out and meet you,” Lt. Donegan said.

For families like the Ashleys, the road ahead is long and fraught with uncertainty.

Knowing that they are not alone makes this journey a little easier.

“It just gives you a boost,” Brian Ashley said. “You’re just like wow, I can have another day like this.”

One of Brian Ashley’s friends has started a gofundme page for them as they try to rebuild their lives. You can find this page by clicking here.

Plus, you can always donate to the Heal the Heartland campaign.

You can text HLTORNADO to 51555.

You can also call (800) SAL-ARMY or click on here to visit the link that will take you to the website where you can donate online.

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