February 5, 2009
Kentucky: Ice storm adds to economic woes
An ice storm that hit Kentucky Jan. 27 created a dire situation for families already struggling with the nation's economic woes, said Betsy Dartt, pastor of House of Prayer Lutheran Church in Elizabethtown. "People with limited incomes didn't have resources to store food."
House of Prayer became a hospitality hub during the storm. The congregation offered its basement floors for people needing a warm place to sleep. Church members served them soup and hosted a spaghetti dinner. They delivered hot meals to elderly people and brought others to the church to get warm.
Half the state's residents are still waiting for power to be restored. John Rogers of Paducah throws logs on the fire to keep warm, puts food outside to keep cold. But the associate in ministry worries about other members of St. Matthew Lutheran Church.
"I can't reach those who live on the outskirts of town," he said.
Joe Trester, pastor of Gethsemane Lutheran Church in Lexington, said individual members of the congregation helped many of their neighbors. In retrospect, he wishes the congregation had been better prepared to respond as a whole.
"We didn't have a contingency plan to open our (church) doors to others who needed help," Trester said. "We're now going to put one in place."
The storm is blamed for 60 deaths across several states, at least 25 in Kentucky. Many died trying to keep warm. Several deaths are blamed on carbon monoxide poisoning caused by propane and kerosene heaters. And others died in traffic accidents.