Journal-Times (Grayson, KY)


February 29, 2012

Human spirit shines through smoke, flames

Feb. 29, 2012 —     “If not for bad luck, I wouldn’t have any luck at all.”

    Unfortunately, that tired old joke could apply today to the City of Olive Hill.

    Last week’s fire ravaged an already struggling downtown business district with the destruction of two commercial buildings.

    Steve Parker and his family had been doing business in Olive Hill for 54 years when the fire gutted his carpet store.

    Next door, the old Case family garment factory was sold last fall to a new owner who had begun to remodel it for other uses, perhaps apartments and some retail space. Now it, too, is a pile of rubble.

    In a town struggling to recover from multiple flood disasters in mid-2010, being on higher ground out of the flood plain was not enough to escape this latest disaster.

    But out of the smoke and flame came more examples of a resilient human spirit that shows us time and time again that we must not quit in the face of adversity.

    Battling a fire so big that it could have consumed an entire city block or more, the courage of every volunteer fireman in Carter County (and a few from Rowan County) was put to the test with incredibly positive outcomes.

    Five residents of three apartments were safely rescued in the middle of the night and not one person, including 72 volunteer firefighters, was injured in the midnight inferno on Tom T. Hall Boulevard.

    Business properties on both sides of the fire were saved from the flames because of trained firefighters with a “can do” attitude and an understanding that protecting a community is much, much more than hanging out at the firehouse.

    Without hesitation, those husbands and fathers and brothers and sons who work for little or no pay got out of bed and into their “turnout” gear to drive their pumper trucks and tanker trucks and ladder trucks to Olive Hill to answer an “all call” alarm.

    They did it without hesitation because they know their brothers in bunker boots and oddly-shaped helmets would do the same for them if fire or another disaster threatened their communities.

    Much has been spoken and written about the resilience of the human spirit. We’ve been seeing that in Olive Hill since the floods of 2010.

    Yes, some folks gave up, never reopened their businesses or homes and moved away. But those who stayed are building a better, stronger community.

    We might say that today the gritty spirit of survival in Olive Hill fits this advice from Sir Winston Churchill during the dark days of World War II:

    “If you are going through hell, keep going.”

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