Memories of past tornado inspires help for Tennessee victims

Posted at 9:59 PM, Mar 03, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-03 21:59:27-05

EAST BERNSTADT, Ky. (LEX 18) — The early morning images of destruction across middle Tennessee evoked emotions across eastern Kentucky, where deadly tornadoes hit eight years and one day ago.

The memories are still strong for first responders in East Bernstadt.

Now, they're trying to help their neighbors to the south.

A few pieces of crumpled steel supported by concrete behind a barn at the East Bernstadt Fire Department serves as a small memorial to what was lost on March 2, 2012.

"Just to memorialize the people that were lost. Just to do what we could," said Frank Votolato, deputy chief of the East Bernstadt Fire Department.

Six people died in this small Laurel County town, and one day their names will be etched on this memorial. When East Bernstadt firefighters woke up this morning to all-too-familiar images of destruction and death across four Tennessee counties, Votolato thought back to that day. He also remembered how surrounding communities helped their volunteer department through the aftermath.

"Every chance we get, we try to help out however we can," said Votolato.

That's why the fire department knows what donated items they want to bring to help with the clean-up effort in Tennessee.

"We needed rakes, and shovels, work gloves, large plastic totes, roofing nails, tarps," said Votolato. "So what we're gonna try to do is try to collect these things from our volunteers and our community and try to make it an easier transition for those folks to get on with their lives."

Votolato says the recovery and clean-up will help victims, but the memories of lives lost will also remain.

The fire department will be accepting donations at the station in East Bernstadt from 3:00 p.m.-8:00 p.m. this Wednesday through Friday. Then, volunteers will head to Tennessee on Saturday morning.

The East Bernstadt Fire Department is located at 2591 N. Laurel Road in London, Kentucky.