MAYFIELD, Ky. — It’s been more than three weeks since deadly tornadoes swept across parts of Kentucky that killed 77 people. The Cajun Navy Ground Force is a Louisiana nonprofit disaster relief organization who is now helping Mayfield residents whose lives have been turned upside down. The organization relies on good citizens and donations to provide essentials to people struck with disaster.
The Cajun Navy Ground Force came from Louisiana to help Mayfield residents recover. The disaster relief organization was founded in 2016 by Rob Gaudet to provide hurricane, natural disaster relief.
They brought 15 volunteers to Mayfield to help tarp roofs, provide meal kits, hygiene kits and provide warm items to people for the winter months. Volunteers come from all over the United States including Texas, North Carolina, all they have to do is purchase a flight or gas up their car to participate. Bobbi Hebermehl serves as the database manager of the organization and says dealing with tornado relief brings on different challenges for the group. She’s been volunteering since Hurricane Ida.
“So a lot of what we realized is the tornadoes took homes, we went and it’s not like a hurricane, it’s a different beast that we’re dealing with here. People are cold, people still are looking to tarp their roofs, or just find other places to sleep if their house was taken away. So as we’re focusing here we're making sure they have that warmth,” said Hebermehl.
Sylvie Langevin brings her volunteer skills from North Carolina, she’s joined by other volunteers who have a helping spirit. Langevin previously helped hurricane efforts in Louisiana for Hurricane Ida. She takes organizing tables full of blankets, clothes and hygiene items serious but she still has fun.
“These [gloves] are really small ones, those [gloves] are cute,” said Langevin.
Keeping people warm in the Mayfield community comes at no cost at all to residents. People can stop at the Cajun Navy Ground Force tent in the Mayfield Walmart parking lot for new sock s, clothes, blankets and other essentials. If it’s not on the table for display it’s inside the two trailers Langevin brought from her home state.
“36/30 [pants]? OK let me go take a look at what I have. I wish I had room to put everything out 34/32 [pants]. So I’m going to stick them here, I’m sure somebody will want them,” said Langevin.
Langevin would like to put everything out on the tables from the trailers but that’s not possible due to limited space. Boxes in the trailer are organized so when a person asks for a specific item they are able to go look for it. Langevin says even when they don’t have that specific item people in Mayfield have still been so thankful for everything they are provided.
“Not everybody has the same kind of heart but if you come out here you are going to be blessed 10x over because these people really appreciate everything you do for them,” said Langevin.
The Cajun Navy Ground force will be helping with recovery for months to come. They’re hoping for a Mardi Gras in Mayfield. The disaster relief organization says the number of volunteers they have will increase as the months go on.