Monday, March 19, 2012

Children Survive Storm that Landed Pet Horse in Grandparents’ Kitchen

The following post is by Angela Nicholas, a Red Cross volunteer from the Coastal South Carolina Chapter in Myrtle Beach, SC. Angela is a former Chapter Executive and is currently volunteering with Red Cross Public Affairs. This past week, she has been out in the field collecting stories from Southern Indiana and Kentucky residents affected by the March 2 tornadoes.

Six-year-old Shelby Cole, who survied the March 2 Kentucky tornado, listens intently to American Red Cross Mental Health Volunteer Alex Weinstein of the Greater Carolinas Chapter in Charlotte. Weinstein and other Red Cross mental health volunteers use artwork and other techniques to help children work through their fears. - Photo by Angela Nicholas

When Barbara Green and her husband dug their way out of the rubble that was their home before the March 2 tornado ripped through West Liberty, Kentucky, they found their horse lying on the kitchen floor. The couple rode out the storm in the hallway of their home and survived without injury. “We got up and dug our way out. I found the tornado had carried our horse through the roof and into our kitchen. It was laying on its side but was okay,” she said.

Green brought her two granddaughters, Audrey Cole, 3, and Shelby Cole, 6, with her to Morgan Central Elementary School where the Red Cross had set up a Service Center to provide resources for tornado survivors. The girls and their parents also lost their home to the storm. Green said the horse and the rest of the family’s animals except for one dog that was killed were okay and being tended by West Liberty veterinarian Dave Fugit. They included a cat with a broken leg and a cat with a broken jaw, but otherwise, the injuries were not too severe.

“Our animals were trapped,” said Shelby, who noted that the family has a donkey, chickens and ducks as well. “It was sad and scary.” Her little sister described what the storm did to their house, saying, “It flew everywhere.”

Both children were greeted at the Center by Volunteer Mental Health Professionals Bruce Funk of York County, Pennsylvania, and Alex Weinstein of Charlotte, N.C. Funk spent some time talking to them and presented them with small Mickey Mouse toys to cheer them up. Weinstein then chatted with the older child and used art to help her work through her fears. Green received assistance to help the family get back on the road to recovery, and the little girls left the Center smiling.