By Bryan Boggiano
For one Coral Springs resident, the recent tornado devastation in Kentucky is personal.
Michael Crisp grew up in Princeton, Kentucky, living there for 21 years, where his father and grandfather built homes. Even though he now lives in the Maplewood community, he still has fond memories and feels deeply attached to the community.
“It will always be a special place for so many memories, experiences, friends and especially family–family by blood and many just through deep and lasting friendships,” he said.
Now, much of what Crisp’s father and grandfather built is nothing more than a foundation.
On the night of Dec. 15, a tornado with estimated winds of 190 miles per hour tore a 165-mile-long path through Western Kentucky, causing widespread devastation and killing close to 60 people.
One of the homes in the path of the monster storm was his sister’s. Their house had significant damage, but Crisp’s sister, husband, and three kids survived unharmed.
“Knowing that they were okay, that was all that mattered,” Crisp said. “No matter what personal belongings were lost, the most valuable things made it out in one piece. Everything else can be rebuilt over time.”
Despite losing nearly everything, including their lives, they were helping their neighbors in any way they could.
Seeing his family’s reaction and wanting to help his hometown, Crisp reached out to his employer, The Keyes Company in Coral Springs, where he is a Realtor.
He discussed ways to help the community recover from the tornado with his district sales manager. On Saturday, The Keyes Company partnered with Southside Baptist Church in Princeton.
The company so far donated trees and decorations and set up a space with couches and chairs to open up presents for Christmas.
Crisp asks the community for help with monetary donations so that volunteers in Princeton can purchase toys and gift cards. He says that supporting local businesses in Kentucky will help the recovery effort further.
Aiming to raise $26,000 by Tuesday, Dec. 21, The Keyes Company will match the first $2,000. They will provide $400 to each family, with $200 for toys and $200 for gift cards to help 80 families.
Crisp said families will spend 30 minutes underneath the tree, opening presents, rejoicing in the season’s blessings, and experiencing their own Christmas miracle.
The deadline to donate to Keyes’s Christmas Miracle initiative is Tuesday, but Crisp said the relief work would be a long-term effort.
Next, they are focusing on providing housing and medication such as insulin.
Crisp said it is essential to fund and establish more organizations and have systems to prepare for such disasters. In small towns such as Princeton, it is imperative to get the resources and help, so they don’t feel forgotten.
But an even more important lesson that Crisp says can be learned is the power of community.
“The community quickly came together, and in true Princeton style. The community has rallied and continues to work hard daily to try and restore hope, faith, memories,” he said. “You get a real look at humanity–strangers helping strangers to begin putting the pieces back together.”
To donate to Keyes’s relief efforts, visit The Keyes Company Paypal page.
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- A University of Florida journalism graduate, Bryan is pursuing his masters in geosciences at Florida International University. He has a strong interest in weather, entertainment, and journalism.
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