HARTFORD, Ky. (WEHT) – Ten months after the deadly western Kentucky tornado, families in Ohio County are seeing a return to normalcy following a dedication ceremony Thursday. Three homes were dedicated to families impacted by the December 10 tornado, with members from the Ohio County Habitat for Humanity, Ohio County Long Term Disaster Recovery Team, as well as Governor Andy Beshear, in attendance for the ceremony.
“What’s behind us is a testament to the human spirit,” says Governor Beshear, “of what happens when people come together who are generous with their time and their dollars.”
Governor Beshear helped cut the ribbon on one home belonging to the Sumner family. Joel and Mary Sumner started rebuilding from the ground up following the devastating storm.
“Very thankful,” says Joel Sumner. “What we could’ve been is 12 funerals as well as losing everything, so the scale was definitely in our favor.” Mary Sumner adds, “Just, you’re hopeless. And then these people come from everywhere.”
The help came from numerous volunteers. In addition to assistance from the Ohio County Habitat and Long Term Disaster Recovery Team, groups from multiple states helped rebuild the homes for several families around the Hartford area.
“We try to build one home a year. But when this hit, we were looking at many homes,” explains Ruth Fields, President of the Ohio County Habitat for Humanity chapter.
Fields says ceremonies like a home dedication are heartwarming, but feels the reaction from families after they move in is even sweeter.
“Just the smile, that’s the only reward we need,” says Fields.
There is still work to be done as construction nears completion, but the Sumner family knows what excites them for their new home.
“Cooking,” says Joel Sumner. Mary Sumner adds that their family has lived in different locations following the tornado, and they are both looking forward to having all of their loved ones once again under one roof.
“Pile the grandkids in and get back to normal,” says Joel Sumner. Mary adds, “It’s been a horrible experience, but it’s been a beautiful experience, too.”
Governor Beshear says this dedication is a testament to his commitment to rebuild all homes that were destroyed by the December 10 tornado, stating that the work will continue until that goal is met.
“Once we get through the difficulties of today, tomorrow’s going to be really exciting for Kentucky,” says Governor Beshear.