Mike Caudill and the youth group he leads from the Carpenter’s House of Prayer Church in Hillsboro saw the devastation left by the recent tornado in Mayfield, Kentucky firsthand after visiting the site Dec. 29 for an overnight trip to bring supplies to the storm’s victims.
Twelve teens and three adult supervisors, including Caudill, delivered clothes, water and dry food to the Mayfield-Graves County Fairgrounds before cooking meals of hamburgers and hot dogs for Mayfield residents.
“We served about a hundred people in less than two hours, and the only reason we stopped is because we ran out of food,” said Caudill.
Seventy-seven deaths were caused in Kentucky by tornadoes last month, and survivors in Mayfield have suffered profound losses.
The youth group met a single mother of three in the city whose house has been condemned. “They are going to bulldoze it down, but she is staying there until they do that because she has nowhere to go; she has nothing,” said Caudill.
Teens from the group spent their own money on flashlights, candles, comic books and crayons for the woman’s children.
“She was telling us that the tornado stood on her street for eight minutes,” said Caudill. “She said it was the longest eight minutes she had ever spent in her life, and there were six people killed on the street she lives on.”
Caudill commended the teens in his group for their efforts. “I can’t congratulate them enough,” he said. “They took control of everything. We didn’t have to do a thing. We set the tables up, and they just took over.”
The storm in Mayfield left behind a wreckage of homes and debris. “A lot of the houses just disappeared,” said Caudill. “I’d say about half of the town just got demolished. It was just flattened as flat as a pancake. It wasn’t a very pretty sight.”
According to the most recent statistics from the U.S. Census Bureau, Mayfield has a median household income of $32,289 and 34.7 percent of the population is considered in poverty.
“Everybody thanked us, and they were just as nice as could be, but this is a really poor community, and I don’t know what these people are going to do,” said Caudill. “A lot of them sleep in tents right now, but the weather is getting cold.”
Caudill is unsure if his group is going to make another trip to Mayfield. “I wish I could have done more and I wish we could have stayed longer — I really do — but we weren’t prepared for this,” he said. “I would love to get another team ready to go back there again. It’s kind of a costly trip, but what’s money when it comes to something like that?”
The Times-Gazette is continuing to accept donations for a future trip by Hillsboro’s Buz Oppy, who had a daughter in Mayfield when the tornado struck, to bring items to assist the impacted families.
Items needed from donations include water, blankets, personal hygiene items, cleaning supplies, baby wipes, snack cups, crackers, granola bars, apples, oranges, paper towels, toilet paper, diapers, toothpaste, soap, washcloths and towels.
Donations for the trip can be dropped off at The Times-Gazette at 108 Gov. Trimble Place from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Those interested in providing supplies can contact Sharon Hughes at 937-708-9443, Ann Elam at 937-763-3108, or the general office number at 937-393-3456.
Reach John Hackley at 937-402-2571.