STANFORD, KY – September 16, 2019
August 1st, 2019, is a day Lincoln County residents will never forget - especially those who live in the Moreland/Hustonville area. At approximately 1:30 AM that morning, a natural gas line carrying natural gas from Texas to New York exploded. The explosion occurred in a portion of the line near Bowen Road, adjacent to US Highway 127. Flames from the explosion shot up in the air an estimated 300 feet. To put this into perspective, the Statue of Liberty is 305 feet tall.
It was immediately obvious this was going to be a devasting disaster for those who lived nearby. Emergency services quickly arrived at the scene and assessed the situation. Likewise, community groups started to mobilize and assist families impacted by the explosion. New Hope Baptist Church was designated as a relief center for those directly impacted.
Candida Byrd, Helping Hands Family Resource Center (HHFRC) Coordinator in Hustonville, lives near the explosion site, and heard students from Lincoln County School District may have been affected. She went to New Hope that morning to see if HHFRC could be of assistance to the victims. It was quickly decided, upon arrival, that the HHFRC location in Hustonville would become the central location for families to go for resources and needs. Byrd became the liaison between the families impacted and the community groups that wanted to help them.
In total, 11 students from Lincoln County Schools were displaced by the explosion, many losing all their possessions and homes within minutes of the initial explosion. Finding a way to comfort these families and meet their immediate needs was not going to be an easy task. Byrd says the community has been amazing. “So many people have provided food, gift cards, clothing, new household items, cleaningsupplies, and hygiene supplies. I have to say, at first, I was a bit overwhelmed with the outpouring of donations. But that is to be expected, as this was my first disaster working at HHFRC. But as things progressed it was rewarding to see how grateful the victims are for everything they’ve received, especially the hot meals provided.”
The resource center is located behind Hustonville Elementary off Douglas Avenue. The center has been a drop off point for donations since August 1st. “I’ve been staying a few nights a week with a resource room open so victims can pick through the donations and get what they need. Some of the families are staying at a hotel still so these items are handy for them. Also, as families leave the hotel and move to their new home, they can stop by and get things they need,” said Byrd.
Byrd said the Lord has blessed her in so many ways these past few weeks, “I have to say that in this horrible situation I’ve learned that serving my community is such a fulfilling and rewarding position. I never thought I could be such an important person to so many lives. Even though I wish it were under better circumstances, and people hasn’t lost their homes and belongings, I wouldn’t trade this experience for anything.”
For her role in assisting families impacted by the natural gas line explosion, Byrd received a #TEAMLincoln Award at the September Lincoln County Board of Education meeting. But to Byrd, the biggest reward from this experience has been getting to know the families she’s helped - “We’ve laughed, we’ve cried, but most of all we have made great memories and healed together. The bond that has been created has left me with a huge new family and I wouldn’t know what to do without it now.”
When asked if donations are still needed, Byrd noted, “The families tell me they need prayers for dealing with change. They were a tight community. They knew each other, helped each other, protected each other and gathered together frequently. Splitting up, because of the circumstances, has caused some heartbreak. But we’ve talked about how change can be good too, and they know that and will always remain close.”
There is a reunion being planned for December. Byrd will be asking for donations for the children and baked goods for that event. “I would like to say thank you to everyone on behalf of the victims and myself. There have been so many donations made, I would never be able to thank you all individually. Your donations and generosity have touched the hearts of each family involved”.
The Helping Hands Family Resource page on Facebook is a great way to keep up with any potential needs or donations for the explosion victims. It’s also a great way to keep up with potential needs of other families and students in the Hustonville area. Helping Hands Family Resource Center’s objective is to nurture children and strengthen families by assisting to meet the needs that impact the educational process. Helping Hands FRC works daily to provide services in our school and link families to agencies in the community. Hustonville began providing services in 1999.
For more information about Helping Hands FRC, or how to help the explosion victims, please contact Candida Byrd at 606.669.8068 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.