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Mission team from Kentucky sister city brings joy, assistance

By Erin Smith, Photos Courtesy Tammy Keshler

After learning of the plight of Bladen County residents impacted by Hurricane Florence, a city in Kentucky reached out to help the  residents of the town of Elizabethtown.  Six months later, the town of Elizabethtown, Kentucky is still assisting Bladen County’s residents who are impacted by the damages left behind by the storm.

A mission team from Elizabethtown, Kentucky visited Bladen County and assisted with repairs to four homes and renovations at the Bladen County Training Center. David Dozer heads up the mission team and said the team enjoyed their time in Bladen County.

Dozer said that following the flooding from Hurricane Florence, Mayor Berger reached out to Mayor Sylvia Campbell to learn about the needs. The town gathered more than 10,000 pounds in donations and delivered them to the Bladen County Disaster Relief Center.

Dozer said he met with Mayor Berger in Elizabethtown, Kentucky and attempted to learn what the needs were in Bladen County. He recalled telling Mayor Berger, “If you would like to contact the Mayor (Sylvia Campbell) and tell her we would be willing to help.”

Things picked up from there. Mayor Campbell directed the mission team to Bladen County Hazard Mitigation Specialist Tammy Keshler who began assisting the mission team in planning their trip.

“They were just a joy to be around,” said Keshler of the team. She explained the team performed work on three houses in the Kelly community and one house in the Lagoon community which is in the vicinity of Singletary Lake. They also worked at the Bladen County Training Center.

Keshler also said the group donated $2500 for the Bladen County Training Center project to the firefighters association and $500 each to several homeowners (mostly homes they worked on here: 1 in Lagoon and 3 in Kelly)

“We are a skilled mission team,” said Dozer. He explained the mission team has representatives from 16 different churches in Kentucky and they have been performing disaster recovery type work for more than 15 years.

“We go where God leads us. We help rebuild and repair and help to get people re-established,” said Dozer.

He said while the team was in Bladen County, they assisted in rebuilding four homes in the Kelly area as well as performing work at the Bladen County Training Center. Dozer said the team went to the Training Center and hung lights and cleaned and painted in the kitchen area.

“The homeowners were a blessing to us,” said Dozer. He added the homeowners were amazed at the quality of work done by the team.

Dozer said that in three homes, the teams were able to complete 100 percent of the work and in one home, the team was only able to complete 90 percent of the work. He said many of the homes already had the sheetrock removed and the flooring removed and were ready for new sheet rock and flooring.

Dozer said the team members wore a cross made of nails as a necklace, and they pass it on to someone else. He noted one homeowner came into the house as the team was working and began to cry. Dozer said she could not believe how much work the team had completed in one day. One of the team members gave her his cross.

Dozer said Hazard Mitigation Specialist Tammy Keshler was a great assistant along with Bladen County Emergency Management Director Bradley Kinlaw.

The group also brought a hat for Mayor Campbell but were unable to present it to her personally due to scheduling conflicts, said Keshler.

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