SPECIAL REPORT: Metcalfe County's Rescue House

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EDMONTON, Ky. (WBKO) -- After a disaster, such as a house fire, families are forced to make several unexpected decisions. To help provide some relief during that time, Metcalfe County has provided a rescue house for its citizens.

Within the seven years it's been open, local officials say dozens of families have stayed at the Metcalfe County Rescue House.

According to emergency management, the house serves as a refuge for community members in need of shelter.

13 News' Darby Beane met with one local family who spent months in the house, after their's caught fire last year.

"By the time we got back out it was completely gone," says Alex Sanchez, referring to his family's home in Edmonton, which burned down on the night of December 23, 2016.

He shared the home with his grandparents and his brother.

"I didn't believe it at first. I told them to leave me alone and let me go back to bed and they just grabbed me and shoved me down the stairs and I got outside," he says.

Everyone made it out safe, but the family had nowhere to go. The house was described as a total loss.

"Justin, my other brother, was like, 'we're homeless'," Alex adds.

That was until they heard about Metcalfe County's Rescue House.

"You have families that have lost everything that don't know where they're going to spend the next night, and this [the rescue house] gives them a place to go," says Emory Kidd, Director of Metcalfe County's Emergency Management.

"It gives families hope," Kidd adds.

The house sits near the lake in Edmonton, fully furnished and stocked with food, ready for any local family to use in case of emergency.

"I'm very proud that we do have it. I wish it was never used, but you know, things like this, disasters do happen," adds Greg Wilson, the County Judge.

According to the chief of the North Metcalfe Volunteer Fire Department, the county has seen 10 or 12 house fires this year alone. Although none of those families have needed to stay at the rescue house, since it's opening in 2010, around 30 families have called this place "home" for some period of time.

"The first family, I remember the chicken noodle soup, the smell it had when they were warming it up so the children could eat while the fire department was still at the fire," says Kidd.

That first family also left a guest book. As Kidd flips through the pages, it's evident people's lives have been touched from the rescue house.

"It's a type of healing because each family that stays writes something in that guest book about what they've gone through and how they survived it or how they dealt with it," says Kidd.

A typical stay in the rescue house is about two weeks, but with each family having different needs, the county tries to make sure people can stay there as long as they need.

According to the Sanchez family, they stayed at the resuce house nearly five months.

"And usually, you know, being a small county and community, when anything like this happens, people just come together and try to help their neighbor, whoever that might be," says Wilson.

In addition to creating a rescue house for the citizens of Metcalfe County to be used after disasters like a house fire, local emergency management is encouraging other counties to do the same.

"There is three in the nation that I am aware of. The other two are in Indiana. We have the only one in the state of Kentucky," says Kidd.

He goes on to say, "The county agrees to keep the insurance on it, they pay the utilities on it, and everything is there. Now, some of our school organizations are going to do a food drive to get some non-perishables to restock the shelves."

Families who have stayed at the rescue house say they don't know what they would've done without it.

"You don't know what to think or what to do, in a moment like that, we didn't know what to do," says Albert Sanchez, Alex's grandfather.

"I'm glad that the people who needed it had somewhere to go," adds Judge Wilson.

Kidd agrees, saying, "I think every county needs one."

The Sanchez family has since been able to move back to their property, where they now have a new home.

According to Kidd, the rescue house wouldn't be possible without the help and support from elected officials.

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