My March 2nd Story: Kalley Petrey

Published: Jan. 30, 2017 at 11:54 AM EST
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While I was not directly affected, I was house sitting that week for my cousins. The next morning after the tornadoes, before any photos and really any news releases, I headed to Lexington to pick my cousins up from the airport. At this point, I didn't know what had been damaged near me.

Right around mile marker 45 on I-75 North, traffic was suddenly slowing down. From a distance, I saw a coal truck flipped completely over, laying on its top and I thought oh my goodness that poor driver. As I approached closer I could see what looked like an area that had been torn apart and then it hit me! It was the damage from the tornadoes. As my eyes veered to the right every home in sight looked destroyed. I remember seeing debris hanging from trees. I wanted to stop, I wanted to help, I felt useless as I was driving in my car, comfy & warm while these people no longer had a home. Did they all live? What about their pets? Oh wow, all the sudden I was overcome with emotions of the "what if's" for these families. My heart broke.

Just seeing the damage I knew it would take them months to rebuild. How many things did they lose that had sentimental value? But rebuilding takes money, a lot of the homes in that area were older mobile homes. What if they didn't have insurance? Oh god, what if they are homeless now? Where are they? Have they eaten today? Are they cold? Do they have clothes on their backs and shoes on their feet? My mind didn't turn off, and at that point, I didn't see a soul in the area and thought ok if people were missing surely there would be people around looking for them. Maybe they are safe.

Not wanting to be late to pick up my family from the airport, I returned to the interstate and kept driving. I remember thinking if this breaks my heart so bad, what about these families? I consider myself to be a strong female, and it takes a lot for me to shed tears. I cried like a baby the whole way to Lexington. I felt so much pain and sorrow! I worried and prayed for those people for days after I saw that. I had a weird feeling in the pit of my stomach, I will never forget it.

- Kalley Petrey

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