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Mennonite Disaster Group helps reconstruction in Mayfield

MDS volunteer helping with cleanup.
P. Hunt
Mennonite Disaster Service
MDS volunteer helping with cleanup.

A pair of organizations are hoping to build 100 Mayfield homes after the Graves County community was devastated by December’s deadly tornado outbreak.

The Mennonite Disaster Service (MDS), in partnership with Homes and Hope for Kentucky, broke ground for the first home in Mayfield in late January and has already started construction for four other properties. The group also provides repairs to family’s homes that received less severe damage such as roofing and siding.

MDS has provided the labor cost for rebuilding the homes and has nearly 75 years of service helping rebuild communities affected by disasters in North America. MDSProject Director Tom Smucker has worked closely with the Mayfield community since an EF-4 tornado severely damaged the town in December. Since the rebuilding process started, the demand for more skilled trade workers has risen. Smucker says MDS's experienced team of rebuilders fits that need.

“At this point, volunteering has become quite restrictive because people need to have the skills,” Smucker said. “We have (experienced) volunteers with framing and roofing. It's hard for regular volunteers without those skills to jump in and help.”

MDS Volunteer Project Director Jerome Shettler has worked in Mayfield for two weeks. Shettler says even though it has been more than two months since the tornado occurred there is still a lot of work to be done. Shettler and his workers have laid down the first footing – the bottom part of a house’s foundation – and have also begun block work for the first house.

“Mayfield is the worst local damage I have seen in a community,” Shettler says. “I have been in hurricane areas where there was major damage and it is widespread. But as far as the amount of local damage, Mayfield is far worse than everything I have ever seen.”

Shettler says donations are very important to the everyday work that is being put in to rebuild homes in Mayfield. Supplies, tools and materials are becoming more expensive. Shettler and his workers will phase out of repairs and focus fully on rebuilding in the coming weeks.

Officials with MDS have requested $20,000 from their board of directors for each of the first ten homes they will build in Mayfield. For more information visit the Mennonite Disaster Service website.

Mason Galemore is a Murray State student studying journalism. He was the editor-in-chief of his high school newspaper. Since then has explored different publication avenues such as broadcasting. He hopes to travel as a journalist documenting conflict zones and different cultures. He remembers watching the Arab Spring in 2011 via the news when he was a kid, which dawned in a new age of journalism grounded in social media. His favorite hobbies are hiking, photography, reading, writing and playing with his Australian Shepard, Izzy. He is originally from Charleston, Missouri.
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