MONTEREY, Tenn. (WKRN) – With the Gulf preparing for yet another hit this hurricane season, volunteers in Tennessee are ready to help out if needed.
Hurricane Delta will be the 80th response in 13 years for the Monterey Lions Club Disaster Response Team.
Their journey began by accident, when a devastating and deadly tornado hit Lafayette, Tennessee in 2008.
“The Lions Club decided to get together and gather volunteers, went there and worked and someone asked who we were and that’s how the disaster team got started,” said Ken Hall, the team’s leader. “We went to Puerto Rico a couple of years ago and we’ve been as far west as Pilgrim, Nebraska and as far east as the coast of North and South Carolina.”
There are five core members with many recurring volunteers from Tennessee and beyond. The youngest is 65 years old. All of them are retired and come from a military or first responder background.
“Younger people are still raising families and working and can’t go, so, it’s up to this generation to pay back the country for the goodness we’ve been shown,” Hall said.
On average, the team responds 15 times a year. They were among the first in Cookeville after an EF-4 tornado ripped through Putnam County, killing 19 people. Volunteers from cities they’ve helped out in returned the favor and came to Cookeville to assist with cleanup and rescue efforts.
The club has also dedicated their time to helping with forest fires and searches for missing children, including Baby Joe Clyde Daniels, who disappeared from Dickson in April 2018.
“The best thing, if there is a best thing about a disaster, if you go to one, it will restore your faith in human nature,” Hall said. “People of all races, creeds and colors are there working together and you would never know there’s any discontent in the world.”
After spending 26 days in Lake Charles, Louisiana helping with Hurricane Laura relief, they are gearing up to turn right back around and return to the Gulf this weekend.
Over the next few days, they will gather supplies and prepare equipment, like chainsaws. They also received a tractor as a donation to help pick up debris. The group will closely monitor the storm’s path and decide where to travel to after it makes landfall in the United States.
The club is a self-funded 501c3 organization. If you’d like to donate, click HERE to connect with them on Facebook.