In the Eye of the Storm Kentucky Appalachia

Friends Drift Inn Farm – Real Life in Appalachia

Tornadoes The Aftermath

Sunset on Kentuckys Appalachia

This post was supposed to be a story about my new local TV show, Friends Drift Inn with Joyce Pinson. Maybe I will write it for next week. There is something else on my mind today, something much more important.

Tornadoes The Aftermath

Maybe you heard. Kentucky’s Appalachia took a big wallop this weekend. We do not like floods, but we are used to them. Tornadoes on the other hand are very rare. This weekend twisters came with a vegenance. The local landmarks are gone. Gone, as in whole towns are flattened. Lives were lost. Homes and businesses were decimated. Schools, once centers of giggles and learning, are flattened or damaged. Courthouses and Extension Offices are crippled.

Living in the Mountains

When you live in the mountains it’s just different than say living in Louisville or Lexington, cities that I love.

Recently I visited Louisville; which IS in Kentucky by the way. A waiter had no clue where Pikeville was or where the mountains were for that matter. He tried valiantly to tell us about some of the staff “from the mountains” who were actually from the western part of the Commonwealth where chickens, corn, and some damn fine Western Kentucky barbeque are the food culture signatures.

Sorghum and Kentucky Bourbon combine in this candy recipe

But travel the hour and a half stretch to West Liberty, KY home of The Sorghum Festival and the story is so different. They know where I come from, they know my little community of Johns Creek, and they know many of my friends and neighbors. Mountain folks learned a long time ago we best stick together because when push comes to shove, we are neighbors and kin.

I’m not sure which of my cohorts at the Appalachian News Express wrote yesterday’s editorial explaining how Pike County is responding to the tornado disasters in West Liberty, Salyersville, and Paintsville; but I found myself crying again.

For generations, our communities were essentially isolated from the outside world and we relied on each other for support in times of needs. Even as our region has opened up more, that self-reliance has remained a constant.

This community has always given, and even national and international causes have benefitted from our generosity.

Now however it’s time for us to give again to our neighbors, and they’re going to need a lot this time for a long time to come.”

A lot this time…and for a LONG time to come

Hillbilly Days Quilt Show

I have many internet friends who have asked “What can I do?” Folks from across the country and around the world. The outpouring here has been great…so great in fact that the Kentucky Emergency Management has asked for cash donations rather than water, blankets, etc because there is no place to store things.

Really, there are no buildings left in many places. None. Nada. It makes my stomach go into a big knot.

As for me, I am thankful for all the organizations that have sprang into action. A radio-thon effort spearheaded by my friends at East Kentucky Broadcasting yielded over $160,000 yesterday.

It is amazing what our little community can do. It was not so long ago, we were on the recieving end of generousity when floods decimated several of our Pike County communities.

United by Food…it really does bind us!

I think about things differently than most.Call me a dreamer. I’m not alone in this dream; and I am thankful for foodie friends who are willing to think about the possibilities. It’s a crazy vision – something that in the midst of this chaos, this desolation, this utter destruction of our mountain communities sounds very frivolous.

Months from today, it may not seem like such a silly pursuit.

A seat at the table

It’s not easy connecting to people in the hardest hit communities right now. Phone lines are down. Cell towers are laying in twisted tangles of metal. Existing systems are over burdened.

A city council member I am trying to get in touch with lost her business and her home sustained damages. Can you imagine?

Behind the scenes, theres a group of us are hoping to work a little magic. I want you to join us at the table. When I can tell you more, when the courthouses looks like a snapshot from small town America and not Ground Zero, I’m going to be calling on you to join an effort; different from most…but at the heart of a mountain community’s identity. Stand by.

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About Joyce Pinson

Joyce Friend Pinson is a regional farm-to-table columnist for the Appalachian-News Express. She is a local television host. Her column show and blog, Friends Drift Inn, explores food, gardening, and real life farm-to-table stories from the perspective of a baby boomer in Appalachia. Joyce has a background in agriculture, media, and small business. Joyce is an heirloom gardening addict and home canner. She has a penchant for big hats, pointy toed shoes, and bourbon. Along with her husband Charlie, Joyce really does live in a barn where they ballroom dance. And laugh. And cook. And giggle.