The Marcum's house was taken down by an act of nature March, 2012 but rebuilt through many acts of kindness. You might even say their house was built by God, with neighbors and strangers as the "wing team."
On Tuesday, June 18, Thurman and Lonnie Marcum were presented the keys to their new home on Versailles Street in Holton. "I'm overwhelmed. Just smell the newness!" 69 year old Lonnie Marcum said, entering her new kitchen and three bedroom home.
It was just 15 months ago when their double wide mobile home was flattened by a tornado, a tornado that killed three of their nearby neighbors. They haven't forgotten that fateful Friday on March 2. Thurman was at home working at the computer, while his wife was at work at New Horizons in Batesville, when he heard a ceiling cracking-type noise. He knew something was going on, and he dropped to the floor. The next thing he knew he was looking at the sky above. "I was hurled 2000 feet… When I got up, I was dazed, and I kept falling down. I guess I was semi-conscious. All around I looked, it was like a war zone. There was no house left," he recalled.
The 70 year old had life threatening injuries, including a blood clot, cracked ribs, and broken bones. His wife recalled, "The nurse at UC said he was the only man she knew who could fly!"
Eventually, after treatment at the hospital, he returned to the county to recover. Lonnie quit her job to care for him. They had stayed with their son and his five kids, but it was too crowded, so they moved to an apartment in Batesville while he recovered at a nursing home there.
That was then, and today, recovered and much healthier, the retired couple is thrilled to be in their 1400 square foot home. They moved in last week, thanks to help from a grant and many people they didn't even know.
Grant helps 8 with homes
Over $2 million was given from the Lilly Endowment toward disaster recovery in central Indiana. Of that, $650,000 was Holton's share. Ripley County did not have a United Way agency, thus the Ripley County Community Foundation became the fiscal agent. The grant money, plus another $200,000 from private donations that came from all over the country, is helping put the Marcums and seven others in new homes. The Holton Long-term Recovery Team worked with case manager Cynthia Melton to determine the home recipients. The Lilly grant has criteria guidelines to follow in selecting the house recipients. Because of their age, injuries, total loss of home and belongings, and other circumstances, the Marcums were the top priority of the Lilly grant.
The grant was earmarked for materials, but not for labor, explained Melton. (She, Philip Deiwert and Darin Kroger are part of the staff, funded by the grant, to oversee local recovery.) Cave Hill Independent Church of God members were the Marcum's "labor angels."
The next two homes should be ready for move-in by the end of June, according to Melton. She thinks they'll have the rest in a new home by August. The recovery group was told it would take three years to finish, but "we had so many voluntee...'traveling angels,' that we got it done in a year in a half." Deiwert, who coordinated the volunteers, said they got donations and help from all over. Several organized church charities also were great contributors.
Rev. Bob McCreary of the Holton Christian Church, and part of the Holton Long Term Recovery Team, was at the Holton Community Center last Tuesday evening to celebrate the move with some three dozen volunteers, all dressed in the green volunteer t-shirts. "Our friends and family are moving back in, and it would not be possible without you," he told them. "On behalf of Holton and Ripley County, I want to thank you, and also thanks to Cave Hill Church of God."
Cave Hill's pastor Doug Norman toured the home a few minutes after the ribbon cutting, and was as joyful at the outcome as the Marcum's. He said it was not difficult to find volunteers. "We explained what happened, their need, and within 15 minutes we had a crew. We have some very giving men in our church," who also happen to be carpenters, plumbers and electricians. "Helping people in need is the direction God is leading us ... This is scripture come to life," he commented.