Science Hill School staff and their families got a first-hand look at the devastation in eastern Kentucky last weekend as they helped another teacher affected by the flooding.
Working with local minister Greg Wells, the man behind this Teachers Helping Teachers initiative, about 45 faculty members and classified staff and associated family members traveled to Perry County on Sunday to help during the most difficult of times.
“We were invited by one of my teachers’ husbands to come over there,” Science Hill Superintendent Jimmy Dyehouse said, referring to Wells, who was married to Andrea Wells, Science Hill’s math interventionist. “He knew there was a need over there in the mountains and came up with the idea of Teachers Help Teachers.”
The group visited the home of a special education teacher at Robinson Elementary School in the township of Ary, Perry County, to help.
“Not only was their school wiped out — they’ll probably never be able to have school in that building again — but their home was absolutely[devastated],” Dyehouse said, noting that the site was near the infamously named Troublesome Creek to the east from Kentucky. “We were on that freeway down there, and there was just nothing but house to house with water up to the roof.”
The Science Hill crew got to the house around 9:15 a.m. Sunday and worked until about 4:30 p.m., Dyehouse said. They helped clean up, got mud out of the basement and shaped it to store things down there. They also went to Teacher’s father’s house, which was also in terrible condition.
“(The mud) was six to 12 inches deep in the basement; They could barely get to the door because of the mud,” Dyehouse said. “All their vehicles were destroyed.
“Her father has lived on the porch since the flood, and that’s where his bed is,” Dyehouse added. “She asked us if we could help her father get a room ready so he could get off the porch. He had one room that wasn’t destroyed and we were able to tear it down down to the studs so another crew could come in and start putting on paneling, new flooring and stuff like that.”
Wells runs a local non-profit organization called Love Your Neighbor that works with disadvantaged families and is involved with the mission organization Encuentro Missions. He was formerly a youth pastor at Science Hill Church of the Nazarene and then left for about seven years before Wells and his family were called back to the area to help people in the community, he noted.
Wells said they received a call last weekend asking about getting teams to help in eastern Kentucky. This led to a visit from Science Hill staff on Sunday, but Wells had been there a week earlier.
“We worked hand-in-hand with the[Perry County]school system as they conducted the distribution process to distribute all of the items donated there throughout Perry County,” Wells said. “We’ve teamed up with CoreTrans (haulage company) here in town to come over and help them move all that stuff…that was left over when they had to get out of the schools so they can clean the schools and prepare for the launch.” could finish.”
When he was in the schools, Wells realized how they would be delayed, “and as we watched everything that was going on, I realized one day that the best thing that could happen is for school to start again and some normality in school creates lives for these children because you have children who, when they are not in school, are not being fed.
Wells said schools there are currently trying to figure out how students in the affected areas are going to school, classes are preparing to start and where they will be going.
“One day when we were working there, it just occurred to me what it would be like if we brought in teachers to help teachers,” he said. “Educators help educators, that’s kind of a slogan we picked up. I gave it to Jimmy and (Principal) Jeff Wesley at Somerset High School, just as a kind of feeler. Jimmy went straight into it and I spoke to Jeff again (Monday) he is very interested in the possibility of bringing a team as well.”
Pictures of the Science Hill crew’s efforts were posted on social media, along with information about what they were doing, but Dyehouse said they don’t want the recognition — they’re only releasing it to encourage other schools in the state to do the same engage and do the like .
“Maybe[they could]adopt a teacher, adopt a couple of teachers and have their school do the same just to help clean up,” Dyehouse said. “It’s just a small thing, but if a lot of people got on board with it, it could make a big, big difference.”
Dyehouse said the experience was an “eye opener” and that just seeing pictures of the devastation in eastern Kentucky on the news helped so much — until you’re there you can’t understand what it’s really like, he remarked, as it’s worse than the photos can convey.
“We came here and had meetings (Monday) mornings and that was the first topic of discussion, how blessed our people felt when they came home last night and they felt so lucky to have a home to go to and we could take a shower and clean up,” Dyehouse said. “At the same time, they were so sad for the people we had just left. When these people woke up (Monday), they woke up to the exact same thing they woke up to (previous days after the flood). Nothing but mud and the smell is really bad. You just can’t help but have such a heart for the people who have lost everything.”