Through March and April parishes within the Archdiocese of Louisville have held special collections to the assist the victims of the tornadoes that ravaged parts of Kentucky and southern Indiana last month. As of May 3rd, $244,145 has been donated to the relief efforts and more arrives every day. The funds are being managed by Catholic Charities, which has trained staff to work with victims of disasters.
“In the initial phase, we worked with responders to ensure that immediate needs were met,” said Palmer-Ball. “Now we are returning to the affected areas and communicating with residents and local service providers to determine what other needs are ready to be addressed.”
Since the day of the tornadoes, Catholic Charities staff member Cathy Palmer-Ball has been active with KY-VOAD (Volunteer Organizations Active in Disaster) working to determine the long-term needs of those affected.
Palmer-Ball has been in contact with several victims of the disaster and also is working in collaboration with the other Catholic Charities agencies throughout the state. In many areas, residents have had major damage to their homes and property, and unfortunately, they are under- or uninsured.
“One woman from Trimble County had her home and a barn damaged and two barns completely destroyed,” said Palmer-Ball. “She is 93 and lives alone and on a fixed income. The barns were leased to neighbors to house cattle and the cows had to be moved to a new location as a result of the tornado destruction. She is now without that income, which she heavily relied on. Her insurance is not going to cover the cost of replacing the barns and repairs to her home.”
Palmer-Ball and her colleagues have met many people in similar situations. What she and the others are doing now is to help victims put their lives back together, including helping the rebuilding of the barns for the woman in Trimble County.
“The early responders performed a wonderful job,” said Palmer-Ball. “Our role will be to help individuals and families throughout the entire process. Right now victims are working with FEMA and their insurance companies, but we anticipate a long recovery period with many unforeseen obstacles. Some families will have their homes replaced with money from insurance and/or FEMA, but may need help with furnishings or appliances. Others have no insurance or FEMA money to begin the rebuilding process and will apply for financial assistance through our agency. Still others may suffer emotional trauma or financial distress. We’re here to provide ongoing case management and assistance for as long as it takes, whether it’s three months, six months, a year or longer.”