More than five months after the tornado ripped through parts of Hopkins County, people are still working to get their lives back.
It’s no different for a Barnsley man and his beloved companion, a dog named Patches. The two narrowly survived the tornado and they are still struggling to survive each day with the help of friends and neighbors.
The man in question has asked that his full name not be given out because he doesn’t want to draw attention, but his story is worth telling.
Joe from Barnsley said that while FEMA and the American Red Cross help some, most of his help comes from the Amish of Crofton, the Webster County Lions Club and concerned citizens.
“If it hadn’t been for the Amish at the very beginning, I don’t know what I would have done,” he said.
Joe’s house was destroyed in the tornado and only part of the foundation survived. Joe and his dog, Patches, were trapped under two 10ft block walls. Joe was only trapped for an hour and 15 minutes, while Patches was not rescued until 11 a.m. the following day.
“The only thing that saved our lives was a 55 gallon drum,” Joe said. “It didn’t stop us from doing it, but it did stop him from going all the way.”
He said the walls pinned Patches’ hips so she couldn’t move to run away, and she couldn’t get on her knees for four days because of it.
After he and Patches were rescued, not much was left of his house.
“It’s been a nightmare,” Joe said.
A few days after the tornado, a man from Mortons Gap came up to Joe and asked if he needed anything to stay. He had an old motorhome that doesn’t work but is still habitable.
“The Amish brought it down here for me and I’ve been here ever since,” Joe said.
He plans to buy an old mobile home to live in because it is too expensive to try to rebuild his house. Due to his previous living situation, where he did not own the property, FEMA and the Red Cross were unable to help him rebuild.
The Amish and the Webster County Lions Club built a shed for Joe so that he could safely store the belongings he found and those given to him.
Shawn and Elaine Vanlue of the Webster County Lions Club have been a great help to Joe over the past few months. In addition to the shed, they built a shower for Joe and hooked up the water.
“It’s a tankless water heater. You can just screw your hose into it and when you turn that knob to get water, it ignites and instantly produces hot water,” he said. “I was tickled to death.”