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Coming together: Storm brings best out of people

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Police, fire, volunteers out to protect and serve

By Bob White

By BOB WHITE bwhite@thenewsenterprise.com

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HARDIN COUNTY – Winter’s wrath has brought people together all over the county as they rely on help from others, forgetting about their own needs to volunteer and simply huddle together for warmth.

Fire, police and volunteer crews regionally have focused on protection and service with welfare checks on the elderly, disabled and needy among the tops on their priority lists.

According to police and fire agencies county-wide, no major crimes or fires have been reported since Tuesday’s blast of ice and snow blanketed the area and knocked out basic services to thousands.

With fire and police crews working the weather beat — removing trees, directing traffic and checking on the elderly — the lack of fires and major crime are a blessing during this time of disaster.

“Hopefully we don’t have any structure fires,” said Ky. 86 Fire and Rescue’s Greg Lowe. “We just don’t need it right now.”

Firefighters with the county’s westernmost department have been busy without fires to douse, with runs such as that in the 6400 block of Hardinsburg Road this week in which a team of seven strong-backed firemen were needed to move a wheelchair-bound elderly man and his wife from their mobile home after it was crushed by a tree.

“The trailer was folding around them inch by inch,” said Ky. 86 Assistant Chief, Hardin County Sheriff Charlie Williams. “We formed a line going downhill to the trailer and were able to carry the man out. The little old lady didn’t want to go.”

Williams said “it’s not a function of fire service to cut trees, direct traffic and relocate the elderly,” but said firefighters and volunteers throughout the county “miraculously came out and did it, anyway, of course.”

In Radcliff, City Councilman-turned emergency volunteer J.J. Duvall, stayed busy Wednesday and Thursday checking on the elderly and moving them to a shelter if needed.

“One lady I picked up yesterday was about 81,” Duvall said. “Her daughter who called us lives on the other side of Oldham County and was concerned about her mother being alone.”

The woman, Pyramid Drive resident Norma Sparks, was without power, heat and water. Worse – she had no one to take care of her, until Duvall took the call and headed to her home in his own truck.

“She had special needs,” Duvall said. “I had to carry her out to my truck and take her to the shelter, but I’m sure there’s stories like that all over the county.”

With the aid of many preachers, volunteer drivers, police and fire crews, hundreds of people have relocated to Red Cross, NAACP, school and church shelters throughout the county.

Police and fire agencies along with volunteers, are doing what can be done to protect those in need, the elderly and sick, and allowing little to stand in their way.

Sonora Fire officer Neal Cardin said a Good Samaritan with a front-end loader beat fire crews to the aid of an ambulance on a run to get a breathing treatment to a sick man on Silver Mine Road on Wednesday.

The fire crew aided the ambulance on the way out, after a tree blocked the road.

“We’ve had a lot of that,” Cardin said. “Trees down, wires down...’

For many others, the brutal winter beating has families hunkered down at home, heating living spaces however they can and settling for one-on-one conversation for entertainment.

Maria Zapata, a St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands native, left her home in Jacksonsville, Fla., Dec. 22 for an extended visit with her sister, Fort Knox schools employee Alicia Pipes.

Neither knew the visit would be riveted so much with disaster and both wished they were on their native island now, instead of in Kentucky’s Heartland.

At Pipes’ home off Ireland School Road, near Radcliff, tree limbs lay all over the place, including a major line in front of her home. There’s no power, no water and no heat.

Over candlelight, the pair met with The News-Enterprise to share their experience.

“Between midnight and 2 a.m. (Wednesday), trees were cracking and falling all night,” Zapata said. “It was so loud.”

Pipes said she was sitting with her pet rabbit Tuesday night when noise from a falling tree shuddered throughout the home, causing everyone inside to jump a bit.

“It scared me so much that the rabbit was running all around,” Pipes said.

Like many fighting off cabin fever, Pipes, her husband and houseguest, have sought the warmth of the basement as the upper levels of the home grow bitterly cold from the weather.

“In the Virgin Islands, we have generators because of the hurricanes,” Pipes said. “We could use one here, too. My husband’s out right now looking for a kerosene heater and a little stove. But everywhere is out of everything.”

Bob White can be reached at (270) 505-1750.