Those in the Courtney area said they were not at all surprised at the quick and enthusiastic response of volunteers to assist with clean up following a tornado that tore through the community on Wednesday. It simply exemplifies the supportive spirit of the area. More than 100 volunteers showed up Saturday morning to help clean up the campus at Courtney Elementary School.
“It’s amazing and at the same time it’s not surprising knowing these people,” said Yadkin County Chairman Kevin Austin. Though not a Courtney resident, Austin’s family attends church in the area and is very familiar with the giving nature of the Courtney community.
Courtney Elementary PE teacher Lora Prater agreed that it was not a surprise to see the swift response to aid the school and others in the area affected by the tornado. Prater said an email had been sent to alert folks of the clean up day and how they could help.
“They were here at 7 a.m. when we said come at 8:30 a.m.,” Prater said. Not only did a large crowd show up to assist, but local businesses and residents brought in donations of food, bottled water and other needed supplies. As the clean up efforts were wrapping up, Prater said they were working to identify other area groups that could benefit from the donated items they hadn’t been able to use.
The gymnasium at the school was almost completely demolished and that area was cordoned off to keep volunteers safe. Community members spent most of the morning clearing up debris left by the storm on the school grounds.
Dr. Todd Martin, Yadkin County Schools superintendent, said he was impressed with the number of people who showed up for the clean up day. He said he thought the clean up would take most of the day, but with the number of volunteers present, they had most of the campus cleared of debris well before lunch time on Saturday.
“This just speaks to the goodness people have and the care and the compassion they have for children and it speaks to the strength of this community and of Yadkin County,” Martin said. “Even in the worst of circumstances you see the best in people come out.”
As the clean up efforts at the school wrapped up on Saturday morning, Principal Dr. Jed Cockrell said a few brief words of thanks to all who attended.
“The silver lining of all this is being able to see people come together,” Cockrell said. “This is a beautiful thing to see how much people care about this community.”
Martin said that the school would reopen on a one-hour delay Tuesday morning.
Austin also noted that the Yadkin County Board of Commissioners approved waiving landfill fees for Courtney residents needing to dispose of debris through June 2. Building inspection fees for residents needing an inspection prior to having power reconnected to their homes also would be waived.
Austin said he also wanted to express his gratitude to the Yadkin County Sheriff’s Office which provided additional security in the area following the tornado and kept area residents alerted to potential insurance and other scams targeting tornado victims.
Volunteers in Courtney didn’t just call it a day once the school grounds were cleared. Following the clean up at the school, a number of folks headed to Baity Road where several families sustained major damage to their homes and property from the tornado.
Kitsey Burns Harrison may be reached at 336-679-2341 or on Twitter and Instagram @RippleReporterK.