Bloomington residents Sandy Erler and Bob Althauser have spent the past
five days in storm-ravaged areas in southern Indiana and northern Kentucky,
doing damage assessment as trained volunteers with the Monroe County Chapter
of the American Red Cross.
Headquartered in Louisville, they have seen the swath of devastation carved
into the landscape by a string of tornadoes. “We followed a path
of destruction a mile wide from New Pekin to Henryville and Marysville,”
Erler said. “All along the way, there are trees lying on the ground,
covering all the back roads.” The scene in Henryville almost took
her breath away. “It looks like someone dropped a bomb on it,”
she said. “Or like it’s been flattened with bulldozers.”
RELATED: IU emergency management officials assist, learn in tornadoes’ wake
Erler said she and Althauser have been assessing and recording the extent
of damage incurred by homes, talking to homeowners in the process. She
said some residents seem to be in a stupor, citing an elderly woman she
spoke with Tuesday who could not answer even the simplest of questions.
“Some people’s mental health is not good,” she said.
“But others, even though they lost everything, are thankful they
are still alive and still optimistic.” Erler said it’s been
heartwarming to see the high number of church groups that are coming to
the rescue with food and support. “It’s wonderful to see this
kind of community spirit,” she said. “People are wonderful,
especially in the Midwest.”
How to help
If you want to help in the next few weeks with disaster relief efforts
in southern Indiana and northern Kentucky, you can contact
You can enter your name and email on the site, and the Metro United Way
will provide you with details about volunteer registration and project
assignments as soon as they become available. The website says items for
donation — clothing is not needed — should be taken to the
River Ridge Complex at 700 Patrol Road in Jeffersonville between 7 a.m.
and 9 p.m.; and that the United Way hopes to soon set up a volunteer reception
center at 723 Spring St. in Jeffersonville to help tornado victims.
If you want to volunteer with the Monroe County Chapter of the American
Red Cross’s disaster relief efforts, you must first take a volunteer
disaster relief training course at 6 p.m. March 28 at the Red Cross office
at 411 E. Seventh St. in Bloomington. You must call 812-332-7292 to register.
“The needs in that area will be ongoing for a long time,”
said Maria Del Mar Carrasquillo, director of emergency services with the
Monroe County Chapter of the American Red Cross. “But we want our
volunteers to be safe when they are down there, so we want to train them
before we send them.”
Carrasquillo said a half-dozen trained volunteers from the Monroe County
Red Cross chapter have helped with the relief efforts so far in Scott
County and Kentucky. One is at the Red Cross operational headquarters
in Louisville helping compile overall damage information, and another
has been to Henryville and is now surveying damage in various Kentucky towns.
If you want to make a financial contribution to the Red Cross relief efforts,
you can send it to the Monroe County Chapter of the American Red Cross,
411 E. Seventh St., Bloomington, IN 47408; or the American Red Cross,
P.O. Box 37243 Washington, DC 20013.
Monroe Hospital is asking people to donate food, blankets, gloves, hammers
and other hand tools in its emergency department any time of day between
now and 5 p.m. Saturday.
Brian Taylor, one of the hospital’s EMTs and a native of Henryville,
will load the items into a van Sunday and deliver them to the New Washington
Fire Department, which serves the Nabb and Marysville areas. The hospital’s
employees have donated some items already, along with financial contributions.
Monroe Hospital is part of the District 8 Response Task Force and Incident
Management Team, and Taylor was one of several EMTs from the hospital
who went to Salem on Friday to set up and run the field hospital there.
Copyright: HeraldTimesOnline.com 2012