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Eastern Kentucky is a unique place.  Families are closely knit for generations.  Many have never left Kentucky…or if they did, only for a brief visit.  Kentucky is home!

Even real estate is familial, passed down from generation to generation.  So something that might seem to be a great blessing is also, in many cases, a great bane.  That family plot of land is subject to flooding time and again.

In a land of mostly hills and small mountains, with streams running down every holler, the only flat land is a narrow strip along the stream at the bottom of the hill. The “perfect” place for a house.

So what happens when it rains a lot?  The valleys fill frighteningly fast, and homes are damaged or destroyed.  It’s been occurring for generations.  Many folks have nowhere else to live.  The situation seems hopeless.

But Mennonite Disaster Service doesn’t think so.

Bluffton University student Sara Poiry volunteers for MDS during their spring break. Working on John Mcintosh’s home.
With Crew Leader Bob Martin.

Fred Hershey, a Project Director who served in Kentucky month after month, described it well.  “People are living in substandard conditions,” he explained, “because no one is identifying them as needing help.  People do not know where to turn or how to get help.  They need interim help until long-term solutions can materialize.  MDS is that help.”

John’s house flooded twice, and that was two times too many.  He found higher ground and began building a house there.  But that, too, was fraught with difficulty.  His health and finances didn’t hold out, making it impossible for him to complete his plan.  Talk about hopeless!  Now he had spent his life-savings, and he had no house!

Long-term recovery team members to the rescue!  They contacted MDS to see if volunteers could at least help John get the roof on and the walls closed before winter came.  Yes, they could, and that they did.

But it didn’t stop there.  The following spring MDS was back with more tools and more supplies, and John is smiling as he now looks at his house that is nearing completion.

Yes, MDS was an answer to his prayers. Hope was nearly gone, but God came through with an unexpected solution.  Should we be surprised?

Lois Wenger

Contributing writer and MDS Volunteer

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