Sending off a load of care

March 23, 1997


Staff Writer

For the flood-damaged town of West Point, Ky., today's arrival of a tractor-trailer from Hagerstown may come as a rainbow after the storm.

Judy Zube, 41, other volunteers and area donors made certain Saturday that there would be a brighter day ahead.

At 9:30 Saturday morning, a 53-foot trailer loaned by DM Bowman sat nearly empty in the Wal-Mart parking lot. Peering into the empty trailer was like looking down a long, dark hallway.

That any group could fill it with donations in a single day seemed unlikely. But there are people in Hagerstown who care about people. And they did it.


"I heard about the flood in Kentucky," said Zube, who is originally from Louisville, Ky. "My sister found a school in West Point, Ky., that had been damaged. But it wasn't just the school, it was the whole town."

Zube, who lives in Williamsport with her husband, Alan, sought help from businesses, church members, friends - anyone willing to help send supplies to West Point. "For me, it has gotten a lot more personal because I've gotten to talk to these folks," Zube said.

The damage estimates have not been made because the town is still cleaning up, said Vernon Curl, Public Works director for West Point. He said there was water in or around 95 percent of the homes, and that about 50 mobile homes were destroyed.

"We're in the digging-out stages," he said. "Digging out mud, floors, carpet, and rebuilding and repairing homes."

He said there was more than $1 million damage to the sewer system and town infrastructure. "And that's not including private homes," he said. He estimated damage to the school at $1 million to $3 million.

"West Point is surrounded by two bodies of water that meet. When the waters rise, the whole town looks like a river," said Laurinda Drake, administrative assistant at the West Point Independent School District. "A lot of people won't go back to their homes for months. A lot don't have homes to go back to."

She said that West Point has about 1,200 residents. The Ohio River and the Salt River flooded the town.

Marvin O. Baer Jr., 42, who works at DM Bowman, headed south Saturday. He made trips to Florida and other states that had natural disasters.

"We thank everybody. The people here see it leave, but they don't see what happens on the other end," Baer said. "Seeing it being given to people makes it all worthwhile. It's the right thing to do. I've never left one of them without crying."

Baer plans to arrive in West Point today. He said that people who see relief supplies on the move show their support. "People give you the thumbs up. They blow their horns and wave ... I almost feel like a hero."

At 9:50 a.m., John Leaf left his 13-year-old daughter, Heather, in the parking lot with about 12 people who were sorting and repacking supplies - bottled water, food, paper towels, diapers, dish towels, furniture, mops, mattresses, chairs, clothes and diapers.

"I heard about this from the church (St. Augustine's in Williamsport)," the teenager said. "I'm doing this for confirmation - for community service."

Leaf, a Clear Spring resident, donated two green plastic storage boxes, each the size of a large microwave, with lids. "It's nice to know people are thinking about other people, even though they're so far away," she said. "If it were us, I'd like to think other people would do the same thing."

Another organizer in Hancock, Doug Murray, brought supplies in a 20-foot Jimco trailer. "The people here have really been great. I got the ball rolling, and everybody else carried it down the court."

Alan Zube, 43, said that some area schools, including Williams-port Elementary school and Salem Avenue Elementary in Hagerstown will continue to collect donations, especially school supplies.

The Herald-Mail Articles