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Ohatchee family has a snowy adventure in Kentucky

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Courthouse

This view of the courthouse in Mayfield, Ky., shows some of the damage that structure incurred.

A snowstorm in Kentucky recently gave Ohatchee’s Denny and Sam Parker and their three children an extra day of volunteerism.

On Jan. 4, the five had driven to Mayfield, Ky., to help the victims of the December tornados, which extended along a 200-mile path and killed 74 Kentuckians. From the Parkers’ church, Beta View Hills Church of Christ, they carried donated items from their church, 25 cans of propane, 20 large storage bins and five propane heaters.

The family had learned the items were needed by registering with two church-sponsored disaster relief teams and Northside Church of Christ in Mayfield. 

But family members met other needs, too. Once while removing debris from property where a trailer had sat, they found the cake topper for a wedding cake. Afterward, they met a couple’s father, who said the topper belonged to the bride and groom who had to get married the day after the storm by candlelight. The volunteers helped others who plan to build a new home to replace the trailer. The Parker family plans to return and paint the house.

They also helped protect people from unscrupulous types known to show up at disasters.

“We were supposed to return on Thursday before the snowstorm hit,” Sam said. “However, a woman approached us and said she was being charged eight hundred dollars by someone who could cover her roof with tarps. We decided to stay overnight and help her.”

Denny is not only a professional painter but also a handyman. Assisted by other volunteers and his family, he was able to place tarps on the house at no charge. Later, the owner contacted them and said the tarps kept her house dry from the snow and the subsequent rain that fell.

Seven inches of snow fell on Jan. 6, which prevented the Parkers from leaving the area. They spent the night at Walnut Grove Church of Christ in Benton, Ky. While setting up their cots and air mattresses for the evening’s rest, they noticed a room in the building needed its ceiling painted. Denny volunteered his expertise.

“The next morning, we traveled three miles over snow- and ice-covered roads,” Sam said. “An elder in the church led us out in his truck. We made it to an interstate highway, and we were fine.”

Throughout the past four years, the family, which includes Alissa, 16; Haley, 15 and Frankie, 12, has volunteered for several disaster-relief efforts where hurricanes have destroyed areas along the Southern coasts: Hurricanes Ida in Sulphur, La., Sally in Lake Charles, La., and Michael in Panama City, Fla. While there, Sam said they endured 105-degree temperatures with 100 percent humidity.

“We prefer that type of weather rather than getting trapped again in snow and ice,” Sam said. “We love to volunteer, though, because it takes our focus off ourselves and puts it onto other people and their needs.”

Denny agreed and was shocked at the degree of damage to the cities in Kentucky.

“I saw all kinds of devastation when we were helping with the hurricane that affected a large area of land between Dothan, Alabama, and Tallahassee, Florida,” Denny said. “But these tornadoes in Kentucky, I’ve never seen anything that took out an entire town, especially its older buildings and factories. It just splintered the town.”

The family feels rewarded for helping others.

“We try to accomplish a lot when helping, Denny said, “but we receive the blessing. Our efforts may seem little when things are overwhelming, but you know that you have helped someone.”