When Kathy Herd learned that her friend of forty-five years, Melva Snapp, needed help after a tornado hit her Alabama community this spring, Herd packed her van with everything from canned chicken to lamp oil and headed to Alabama.
Herd has been a construction coordinator with UT Facilities Services for 30 years.
“My friend had eleven people in her home, no power, and no food on the mountain,” Herd said. “She needed me. I wanted to do something, any little thing that would help.”
During the storm, Snapp, her sons Mark and Mike McMahon, and their families hid in closets at their respective homes. After the storm, Snapp took in both of her sons and their families; one of her son’s homes was destroyed by the tornado and the other’s home —like Snapp’s—was without power.
As Herd was driving to Alabama, she said she “was thanking God that all survived and no one was hurt, at least in my friend’s family.”
“Once I saw the devastation, I was even more thankful,” Herd said. “God surely had His arms around them that day.”
While in the tornado-ravaged area, Herd saw families living in tents and pop-up campers beside homes totally destroyed.
“It looked like toy homes made of matchsticks that some child had wantonly destroyed. There were pieces scattered along the road for miles,” Herd said. “My heart ached for these people and, to make matters even worse, they had to stay on their land to protect what little belongings had remained intact from looters.”
Herd delivered a van full of supplies—canned chicken, tuna, fresh and canned vegetables, fresh fruit, and ice. She also brought with her a case of lamp oil, bottled water, coolers, washing powder, paper towels, and toilet paper.
“It was just a small band-aid on a big hurt,” Herd said.
In Knoxville, Herd volunteers for WUOT during their fundraising campaigns. After retiring in August, she plans on volunteering at the Love Kitchen.