Town hit by tornado rallies to clean up crime
Posted May 26, 2009 10:36 p.m. EDT
Updated November 15, 2009 12:55 p.m. EST
Kenly, N.C. — After a November storm spawned tornadoes around Kenly, residents came together to pick up the pieces, and their effort has grown to ridding the town of crime and drugs.
“Kenly is just too small to have all those crimes around. Just too small. Just too small. We need to work together,” said Margaret Williams, Kenly resident.
Roughly 2,000 people call Kenly home. Outsiders often refer to it as small and quiet, but those living there often saw it differently.
“You're not really comfortable letting your kids play in the yard,” said resident Ellie Johnson.
Johnson and several other residents decided they had had enough. They organized a town watch to try and curb crime, particularly among juveniles.
“The size of our town is probably the size of some of the neighborhoods in some of the larger metropolitan areas,” Johnson said.
The grassroots effort began around the start of the year. Residents started selling town-watch signs just a few weeks ago.
Kenly Police Chief Josh Gibson said the effort has made a huge difference so far.
“We've seen a drastic decrease in crime during this time,” Gibson said.
With the help of monthly crime-fighting meetings, crime is down as much as 50 percent over this time last year.
Although the tornadoes first tore so many lives apart, “it set the stage to bring the community together. It really did,” Johnson said.