The Salvation Army, Red Cross and other organizations rallied in record numbers to collect money, goods and helping hands for the area.
Colleges and schools held concerts, organized sporting events, even adopting specific schools in the affected area to collect goods and raise money for. Livestock clubs donated sales money, and animal shelters donated employees for the rescue effort, bringing back family pets in desperate need of care.
Others simply loaded down vans and trucks with supplies and drove to the coast themselves, bringing back carloads of displaced citizens. Churches opened their doors to those without homes or provided housing paid for by congregations.
Police, fire, rescue crews and other medical personnel took the trip themselves if they weren't busy raising money.
Concerned families opened their homes to friends from the Gulf Coast, in some instances also to complete strangers because they had the room to spare.
The catastrophe proved to be a moving one for locals far and wide, even to a six-year-old Junction City boy who started a mission to collect Bibles, sending them to the affected areas. "God told me in a dream to help," Tyler Mattingly said.
"They'd do it for us if we needed the help," said fundraiser Samantha Sandidge, a fifth-grader at Jennie Rogers Elementary.
- Bobbie Curd
Ephraim McDowell Regional Medical Center announced in October that it will undergo a $35 million expansion and renovation project that will add more than 70,000 square feet of new space, upgrade 30,000 square feet of existing space and increase the center's payroll by up to 100 new employees.
The project, which recently was approved by the Ephaim McDowell Health Board of Directors, will increase the medical center's overall size from 227,000 square feet to almost 300,000 square feet, its total patient bed capacity from 187 beds to 207 beds, and its payroll from 1,087 employees to nearly 1,200.
Here are highlights of the project:
* Construction of a new, three-story patient tower consisting of 72,030 square feet. The tower will be located in a portion of the hospital's visitor parking lot. This new patient tower will feature a ground level lobby, 30 new beds in private rooms, a 10-bed, private room intensive care unit on the first floor, and a women's center on the second floor.
* Renovation of 31,730 square feet of the existing six-story Johnson Tower, which currently accommodates all of the medical center's medical and surgical patient rooms. The renovation will include redesigning the intensive care unit on the fifth floor to accommodate 12 beds, and rebuilding the sixth floor for acute care beds.
McDowell also announced construction plans for a new facility to replace Fort Logan Hospital in Stanford, and the Casey County Hospital board announced it will begin construction of a new facility in 2006.
The Casey hospital will be located behind the current facility at the corner of Wolford Street and Sharp Drive. The project is expected to cost between $15 million and $20 million.
- Herb Brock and Brenda S. Edwards
In Lincoln County, seven men, six of them volunteer firefighters, were indicted in August by a Lincoln County grand jury and charged with setting fires in three buildings in May and June. One of the buildings was the historic Hubble school built in the 1800s.
The men were Kyle Cupp, Linden Pullum, Christopher Cross, Michael Griffin, Michael Bailey and Craig J. Gingras and Aaron Denny, who was not a firefighter.
The firefighters were suspended from the fire department three weeks before they were indicted when allegations were made about their setting the fires. The charges in the indictments ranged from second-degree arson to wanton endangerment and criminal possession of a destructive device or booby trap. Some also were charged with complicity.
Pullum, Cross, Griffin, Bailey and Gingras pleaded guilty in Lincoln Circuit Court in November to amended arson charges and were sentenced to five years of pretrial diversion. The sentence means the men can avoid going to prison if they commit no further crimes in those five years.