BRENTWOOD, Tenn. (WKRN) —The Volunteer State is living up to its name as Tennessee joins the effort to help victims of last week’s historic flooding in Eastern Kentucky.

Brentwood-based Hope Force International is on the ground in Hazard, Kentucky. The organization trains volunteers in advance so they’re prepared and allowed to respond to disasters, often working in restricted areas.

“We’re staying at a church, sleeping on the floors, we find these people that, because of the disaster, the speed of trust happens pretty quickly. And so they know where the needs are at, and they help us get there,” said Joey Stoltzfus, Disaster Services Director for Hope Force International. “The next the next day and a half, we’re beating the path, we’re going to these different communities, meeting with some of these leaders, and trying to understand where are the best places to go, and kind of go from there.”

He said their main focus now is helping homeowners clean out mud from their properties.

“The thing that we try to do is get the house to the point where all the yuck and muck is out and the house is drying,” said Stoltzfus. “They’re up against the clock with mold and once that stuff starts growing, it can grow pretty quickly and can get ugly quickly in a situation like this where it’s hot and humid.”

He said it’s not just about helping with the physical recovery of the community the emotional impact is a big focus for their team as well. Stoltzfus shared they’ve heard stories of what residents saw the night of the flooding.

“I was talking to a fellow the other day, one of the local leaders in another community, he just said it was like, you know, a tidal wave that just came through, this wall of water came through and just washed stuff away,” recalled Stoltzfus. “Miss Emma, 86 years old, was raised in a house that was flooded today. And you know, the house probably is not salvageable. And she may not want to rebuild it. She doesn’t have insurance, she never had a reason to have insurance. But the time that our team spent with her today, again, their two greatest tools today were their ears, they sat with her and listened to her. And part is that is the healing process for her as she begins this long recovery.”

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He said because of the tough conditions, Hope Force Interntional volunteers stay up to two weeks before a fresh crew is cycled in. On Sunday, the group put out an urgent call to their reservists saying more help is needed in Kentucky.

“We actually limit the time that people can stay on the ground with us because it’s so difficult. It’s not easy,” he said. “We’re up early, we’re to bed late and you’re doing stuff that physically is hard. But what you don’t always recognize is just the intense emotional impact it takes upon us as volunteers. And so usually our volunteers we don’t let them stay any longer than two weeks. After that you start to digress quickly because it’s hot and humid.”

Crews arrive in the immediate aftermath of disasters and also serve and respond in areas with long-term, chronic needs. They already had a crew over in Western Kentucky helping tornado victims when severe flooding hit the state’s opposite end.