Hurricane survivor grateful for Danvillians' generosity

September 29, 2004|BOBBIE CURD

The week of Sept. 13 was a hard one for parts of Florida's gulf coast. Power lines were knocked down, bridges wiped out, and homes destroyed. Hurricane Ivan had no mercy on the panhandle.

Sharon Carmichael, who lives in Melton just outside of Pensacola with her husband and their three children, has been a resident of Florida for a "long, long time" but has never witnessed such a disastrous view in her own front yard.

"It's just unimaginable. We had nothing but power lines covering our front yard; it was difficult to even see the grass," she said.

Carmichael and her family spent six to eight hours hovering in the middle of their house since houses in Florida are built to be "hurricane-proof" at the center. "It hit us the hardest on Wednesday, the 15th, and we were without power, phones, everything. My brother couldn't even get through to us until that following Saturday."


Carmichael's brother, Billy Waters, is a resident of Danville with his wife, Pearl. Since the Red Cross and Federal Emergency Management Agency were inundated with distress calls, Carmichael's family had received no help. The town of Melton, which is about four square miles with a population in the range of 8,000 to 9,000, was at one time completely without power.

"My brother and sister-in-law immediately went out to the store to load up on goods for us, bless their hearts."

Carmichael said even though the storm left them feeling helpless, she knew in her heart that they were lucky. Her brother had called to let her know that they would be picking up food and supplies and driving their motor home down, which is equipped with a generator, and leaving it for the family to use.

Two of Carmichael's children have special needs due to cerebral palsy; having the appropriate supplies around was a bit more important to them than the average family. "I knew that we were in a dire situation. When my brother arrived with the food from Danville, we were just, we were ... just so appreciative ..."

American Legion Post 46 helps

The Waterses had taken a quick trip to their local Wal-Mart in Danville. Waters is a member of American Legion Post 46 in Danville, and the post collected funds for supplies to send to the Carmichaels.

Mrs. Waters is a former employee of Wal-Mart, and had worked there for eight years. She knew the local store sometimes helps area families in need and thought to contact Kenny Walton, the store manager. Walton told her to give him a couple of hours and come back to the store. When the Waterses returned, employees had the shopping carts full of non-perishable food items ready for them.

"We are just so appreciative that they did this for us - for Sharon's family, since they're not here in the area. When we got there, one employee was waiting for us. He said, 'Why don't you go down the cookie aisle, too? We'll get the venders to donate it - all kids need cookies.' They were great. We were so thankful to Kenny for doing this for us. He didn't have to."

Walton is in his sixth year of management for Wal-Mart and lives in Danville with his wife and two daughters. At first he was not eager to comment when contacted about his good deed. "I did not do this to get my name in the paper or to get a story written. Pearl worked here for a long time, was a great employee, and she and her husband are both good people."

Carmichael said, "I just wanted everyone else to know that there are good people out there, that people do come together in times of need, and we are so very thankful that there seem to be the most kind and giving people living in Danville, Ky."

Walton wrapped things up nicely, stating, "That's very sweet that she wants to thank us for doing that, but it was the right thing to do. I hope others reach out to help other unfortunate folks."

For information on how you can help, contact the local Red Cross Central Kentucky Chapter in Danville, (859) 236-6538.

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