Two years after the Great Plains Disaster Response team helped those whose property was damaged by a tornado in Eureka, Kansas, they returned to help victims of the latest storm.
“They can’t believe this is happening again,” said the Rev. Hollie Tapley, disaster response coordinator for the conference.
While the 2016 EF-2 tornado struck from northwest to southeast in the Greenwood County community of 2,000, the June 26 EF-3 storm went from southwest to northeast, creating an X over the town.
“These are some of same homes we were dealing with last time,” said Tapley, who was put in charge of volunteer management and work orders by Greenwood County officials.
Disaster response volunteers worked with personnel from the American Red Cross in disaster assessment two days after the storm. Six teams fanned out around the town Thursday morning.
“There are some homes that are destroyed and some that have minor damage, and they could be sitting right next to each other,” said Wayne Jelinek, a team member from Benton, Kansas.
The First United Methodist Church in Eureka was open immediately as a shelter for the Red Cross.
After their experience two years ago with Great Plains Disaster Response, volunteers say members of the community know that they people in the fluorescent-green T-shirts are there to help.
“When they saw our green shirts, they were assured we were there to help,” said Norma Patton of Peabody, Kansas, volunteering with her husband, N.M.
Patton said that aside from physical assistance, volunteers also provide comfort. “We try and listen,” she said.
Darrell Hacker of the Red Cross said about 140 homes were damaged in Eureka, about 10 percent less than the 2016 storm.
The volunteers said those in Eureka have a good attitude after two damaging tornadoes in three years.
“They seemed pretty positive about everything,” N.M. Patton said. “They’re just thankful they can rebuild.”
Tapley, who had been working with Eureka homeowners nonstop since 5:30 a.m. Thursday, said she’s trying to be the “hands and feet of God” in her new official role, assuring them relief is on the way.
“We’ll get them back and going again,” Tapley said. “It just takes time.”
David Burke, communications coordinator, can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.