Christian Chronicle

Breaking down barriers — new and old — to help tornado victims

As a Kentucky town recovers from a devastating storm, church members open an unlikely relief center.

By Bobby Ross Jr. | The Christian Chronicle

MAYFIELD, Ky. — Before the tornado, Penny Wade Smith grew frustrated with the neighborhood behind her business.

Rob Smith shared his wife’s concern.

As the Christian couple saw it, the residents had become a nuisance — responsible for dumping trash and beer bottles in the yard of Wade Farm Financial Services.


Related: After Mayfield tornado, some stories inspire


“A couple of years ago, I started thinking about moving somewhere more desirable in town,” said Penny, 56, whose late father, Kenny Wade, started the tax and bookkeeping service for farmers in 1985. “I just didn’t want to go through all that trouble to move all my IT (information technology) and everything.”

Instead, Penny — whose family attends the Reidland Church of Christ in Paducah, Ky. — expanded her building and put up a wooden fence “to keep out the undesirable element of our neighborhood,” as she described it.

Then came the night of Dec. 10.

Debris surrounds a home hit by the Dec. 10 tornado in Mayfield, Ky. Photo by Audrey Jackson

An EF4 twister with winds estimated at 190 mph ravaged this western Kentucky community, demolishing hundreds of homes, businesses and churches.

In Graves County, where Mayfield is the county seat, 22 people died, including nine killed while working at a wrecked candle factory. 

The storm also knocked down the fence separating Penny and Rob from that “undesirable element.”

Read the full story.

This story appears in the February edition of The Christian Chronicle.

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