Helping is just our way here in Appalachia


For the last two weeks, the weather has certainly been in the news.  Hurricane Harvey hit coastal Texas and precipitation totals of over 50 inches of rain have inundated Houston and other parts of the Lone Star state.

Now, Hurricane Irma is bearing down on the Florida coast and has been recorded by some as the strongest Category Five hurricane on record and could affect our weather in Appalachia.

Despite feeling sometimes as the outcast of the United States, that mountain section of the country filled with “Bible thumpin’, gun totin’, redneck hillbillies” as we are referred to sometimes, has pitched in to help and most if not all without asking for a thing in return.

Just to meet the need.

Crews have left the Mountain Empire from where I live, taking on the responsibility of helping families in Texas devastated by the flooding of Harvey while some have left for Florida in preparation for what Irma might deliver by this weekend.

Despite the reputation and the perceived notion that we are “ignorants” in the mountains, we do have a heart; and a very big one at that. We take the criticism of where we are from, those preconceived notions of Appalachia, our talk and more, and drop what we are doing to go and help someone in need.

It’s just our way.

While it’s true some of us can’t help financially in ways like other parts of the country, there’s one thing Appalachia does with no prejudice; help our neighbor, even if they are thousands of miles away.

No matter the color of skin, the sexual preference or lifestyle, rich or poor, Appalachians pitch in to give in a time of need whether through manpower, financially or through the power of prayer.

It’s incredible what you can accomplish when you lay aside prejudices and preconceived notions. While it may not solve all the problems in Texas, Louisiana and Florida, we here in Appalachia show that we care, through giving at the grocery store to relief efforts, sending carpenters and electricians, church members who specialize in disaster relief or just to send one person to pray with someone affected by the tragedy or by praying.

We do care here in Appalachia, but it’s sad thing to also make note of.

Why does it take a disaster to bring everyone to their feet and to attention to help and do good in the world?

A gentleman reminded me of the topic of dedication many years ago.  I was watching a baseball game on the TV in a local car dealership when the co-owner walked up to me and said, “Wow, what a crowd at that game!”

I acknowledged the fact to him and then he said something that I have never forgotten. He turned to me and said, “Now, can you imagine that crowd all cheering and hollering for what Jesus Christ has done? It’s just sad that all of these people aren’t cheering for the real reason for their existence.”

The gentleman made a point in that conversation that our dedication to certain things have become very distorted over time.

Which leads me to my point that it seems to me that Appalachia has given a lot over the years, in sweat, toil and in blood, not to mention financially with a lot of our exports going out but the return not coming back to totally benefit us. It’s partially our fault for being so trusting.

While I hope that we never have a natural disaster in Appalachia on the scale of Houston, TX or what could happen in Florida with Hurricane Irma,  I know we have had help and assistance from outside of the region before when we have experienced large crippling snows, flooding and storms.

I wish that some people could look past the stereotypes and the thinking that we don’t need help here in Appalachia and look beyond our “faults” and truly see our need, disaster or no disaster.

It may sound a little petty but I wish we could get the help here in Appalachia, in a spiritual kind of way, that would help us rise above the depths of our despair.

We given a lot from Appalachia in our dedication, our sweat, toil and yes, even our blood.

I just wish someone would come to Appalachia, look over our mess and assist us. The same way we look at the situation beyond the mountains when there is a need. I know there is a need in Texas and Louisiana, and even more in Florida in the coming days.

Could someone just lay aside their preconceived notions of Appalachia and come and assist us in our time of need?

It’s something I pray for every day here in Appalachia.

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