By Jeff Noble
For those who had loved ones who perished from the fury of a Friday night tornado, who answered the call to save and rescue those injured in the debris, or who unselfishly helped to rebuild a shattered community, March 2, 2012 will always be remembered.
It was the worst tragedy ever to hit Laurel County.
And what started first as shock and grief has given way to hope and renewal in the East Bernstadt area.
This Saturday, a special community service for the six victims of that tornado, as well as those who helped in the process of cleaning up and rebuilding the area, will be held at the First Baptist Church of East Bernstadt at 226 School Street, off KY 490.
The service will begin at 6 p.m., and will follow with a meal in the church’s fellowship hall.
Those organizing the service said the theme of the service is “Rebuilding Hope.”
It will feature Laurel County Judge-Executive David Westerfield and Laurel County Sheriff John Root as guest speakers. The church’s pastor, Brother Norm Brock, will also speak and special singing will be featured as well.
Along with remembering those who died, recognition will be given to those who volunteered in the recovery, rescue and ultimate rebuilding and renewal of the area.
A special “thank you” will also be given to the first responders — volunteer and paid firefighters, law enforcement officers, emergency medical service personnel and other essential services workers — who went the extra mile, and then some, during the disaster.
“We’re going to have some of the people speak, and recognize how the community came together. We’ll have a video of the destruction and projects that a couple of churches had built in the tornado’s wake, and we will pay tribute to the six people who died from the storm. It’s also about rebuilding and renewal. Even when we face storms in our lives that mark us, our intention is to show in the future there is hope,” said Tricia Buddenberg, office manager at FBC-East Bernstadt, during a phone interview Thursday.
She added the initial planning for the event has been going on for several months, and that support from the community has been “wonderful.”
“It’s awesome for people to come in this Saturday night at the church and share with each other their troubles and accomplishments. And, most important, how our community pulled together at such a trying time,” Westerfield pointed out Thursday in a phone interview.
The community, and local church groups in Laurel and surrounding counties, are encouraged to attend the special service. For more information, you can contact the church at (606) 843-6211, or contact them by going to their website at www.fbceastbernstadt.com, or follow them at their Facebook page.
Before the service that night, Buddenberg said several activities will take place in East Bernstadt on Saturday morning.
“They include serving hot dogs at two convenience stores in the community, and taking appreciation ‘Care Bags’ to hospitals, the sheriff’s department, ambulance service, police department and other first-responders, to show appreciation to the service they provide every day. Our whole point is to love the community on the anniversary of the tornado,” she noted.