Two H&R Block associates spend holiday break volunteering in Kentucky tornado wreckage
Corey W. Gordon, manager of People & Culture, and Jack Carr, talent acquisition advisor of People & Culture, worked with Eight Days of Hope to help those affected by the December tornado disaster in Kentucky.
“It’s powerful to not only see a state come together, but people from all over the nation,” Carr said. “Everyone just dropped everything going on in their lives to come and help out.”
Gordon recalled watching The Today Show on December 10 when he really began to realize the severity of the tornado damage. Gordon and Carr dropped everything on Dec. 27 to make the six-hour drive to Mayfield, Kentucky when a former H&R Block associate connected both to the organization.
“My lifelong best friend and her husband live in KY, so when I first heard about it, I reached out to see if they were okay,” Carr said. “They were perfectly fine, maybe 3-4 hours from the tornado zone, but that was a factor I took into consideration when Corey approached me about this. Something about ‘it could have been them’.”
Eight Days of Hope provided gear for those running chainsaws, as well as goggles, lodging in a local church and food. Each volunteer provided their own gloves, boots and water. Both associates were put on a team sawing trees, removing and loading wreckage into trash bags while working fast on the job site, because the devastation was so overwhelming.
The disaster was the deadliest U.S. tornado outbreak in a decade, with more than 220 miles across the Midwest, southern parts of the U.S. and Kentucky sustaining the move severe damage. The storm ended in more than 75 confirmed deaths.
“Seeing the devastation was overwhelming,” said Gordon. “If it weren’t for a driveway or a mailbox, you would have no idea where someone’s home was sitting, but a moving part for me was actually completely clearing out homes until there was no more visible debris.”
Among the wreckage: 50-foot-trees were sideways and trailers were thrown more than 600 feet. Each family’s land was handled individually before moving on to the next site.
A few instances stuck out to both associates, like one woman who was more concerned about the grass around her husband’s grave than her actual home. The team decided to build her a bench to sit next to her favorite spot.
Another instance was working on one yard where six wrist watches were found buried in the debris. Everyone slowed down and hunted for more in case the homeowner’s jewelry box was close by.
“On Wednesday, an older couple from the Baptist Church in Benton, who were was close to the family that lost their home, delivered hot cheeseburgers with homemade buns and french fries to more than 25 people,” Gordon said. “It was a very kind gesture and it was better than the cold ham sandwich sack lunch.”
Gordon and Carr returned on Dec. 30 after spending four straight days volunteering.
“When it comes to volunteering…don’t think too long or you will talk yourself out of it,” Gordon said. “Enjoy who you go with. Jack was a great partner. Plus, you are going to get more than you give.”
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