Kokomo trip an eye-opener

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Travis Stetnish, Brad Prater and Josh Pickett from the City of Westfield public works dept. provide tornado relief assistance to Kokomo. (Submitted photo)

Travis Stetnish, Brad Prater and Josh Pickett from the City of Westfield public works dept. provide tornado relief assistance to Kokomo. (Submitted photo)

Commentary by Travis Stetnish

It was splashed across the news. Dozens of tornadoes twisted their way through Indiana and Kokomo was a target. As the images of the damage done in Kokomo scrolled across my TV screen I felt something had to be done and I wanted to reach out in some way. So when Public Works Director Ken Alexander asked if I would help there was no hesitation.

My team consisted of two other employees from the street division – Brad Prater and Josh Pickett. Brad and I left early Tuesday morning each driving a City of Westfield dump truck. Josh went a little later that day with a Westfield back hoe that was hauled to Kokomo by Harvey Construction (they were nice enough to donate their time).

Once we got to Kokomo we were put to work. A tornado plowed through one neighborhood and part of that devastation was a home pushed onto a busy thoroughfare. Soon after, Kokomo crews pushed the debris out of traffic, but there was a lot of clean up left to do.

As my team hauled what was left of the house to a dump, the homeowner was trying to sift through her belongings. Volunteers helped as they searched for a wedding ring, priceless jewelry and even two loaded pistols.

Although her home was destroyed, her life strewn across 500 yards for strangers to pick up, the woman spray painted on a mattress in front of what was left of her home “God is Good.” It’s something I will never forget.

While my crew worked three solid days in Kokomo on just one home, it wasn’t enough. The images I saw in person were far more heartwrenching than what I saw across my TV screen that fateful afternoon. I just hope if I’m ever in a similar situation I can have as much courage and faith as the woman I met had.

 

Travis Stetnish is a City of Westfield foreman. He can be reached at tstetnish@westfield.in.gov.

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