MAYFIELD, Kentucky (WDRB) — After a tornado hit western Kentucky last December, state and federal officials pledged to act quickly to help people rebuild.
Governor Andy Beshear launched a statewide donation program within a day of the outbreak. President Joe Biden approved a federal disaster declaration that same day, paving the way for assistance from the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
A year later, nearly $43 million of the $52.3 million raised by the Team Western Kentucky Tornado Relief Fund went into programs that included building new homes and funding farmers, according to state data. . About $9.4 million is still unallocated.
FEMA distributed $15.8 million to 2,365 households across the region, according to data surveyed by WDRB.
In Mayfield, volunteers spend hours renovating dozens of homes.
Allen Davidson, Mayfield-Graves County Long-Term Recovery Group Volunteer Coordinator and Community Baptist Fellowship pastor, said: church.
“Some people are still in campers.”
Twenty-five families who are tornado survivors will be given 25 homes by December 25 for a program called Home for the Holidays. This is a long term recovery group project.
Pastor Joey Reed, Vice President of the Long Term Recovery Group, said:
While much progress has been made in the tornado-hit areas of Mayfield and Dawson Springs, there is also frustration.
“We didn’t get FEMA certified,” said Dawson Springs tornado survivor Meredith Hyde. could not be obtained.”
FEMA said the program will provide “financial and direct assistance to eligible individuals and households with essential expenses and serious needs who are affected by a disaster and who are uninsured or underinsured. provide service,” he said.
FEMA spokesman Jim Homstad said, “FEMA will not be obliged if other sources, such as insurance, crowdfunding, or financial support from voluntary organizations, provide assistance for the same disaster-related need. or if such assistance is obtained from another source,” he said. It is intended to help with disaster-related needs that are missing or inadequately insured.
“IHP is not a substitute for insurance and cannot cover all losses caused by a disaster. It is intended to meet the basic needs of disaster survivors and complement disaster recovery efforts. .”
FEMA said 6,043 households are not eligible for FEMA funding. Disaster survivors received an average of $6,100 for housing assistance and an average of about $3,000 for other needs.
The map below shows the 16 counties in which FEMA has assisted tornado residents.
In Graves County, which includes Mayfield, FEMA said IHP paid $4,654,852 to help 853 families. In Hopkins County, which includes Dawson Springs, FEMA said his IHP paid his $4,531,120 to help 417 households.
With her Dawson Springs home leveled, Sheila Rose now lives in her new home.
“FEMA was great. A lot of people talk bad about FEMA,” she said. “It took a while. I complained a lot. I think that’s the process. You have to keep going. You have to make sure you have the right paperwork and the right people to help you.” I was very lucky that the FEMA money helped me pay for the house.”
She was thrown into a tornado, killing her family and her granddaughter, two-month-old Aucklin Kuhn.
The community has given this family a big hand to ensure a safe future. Rose’s house has a safe room that doubles as a closet.
“Everything is bolted to concrete, so everything stays there,” says Rose. “The whole place is gone, but it’s there.”
Also in Oaklin’s family trailer in another part of town, people donated to build an underground storm shelter. There was so much community support. But some say it’s easier than getting money from the state.
“Kentucky donated $40 million,” Hyde said. “Money was donated to help victims of the tornado.
“We weren’t ready to spend all our savings. We had three cars in total. We had to find a place to live for a while. We had to wear all the new clothes. did.”
Beshear said tens of millions of dollars were initially used to pay for the funerals of the 81 people who died.
The state said there is no application process for people to receive money from the Tornado Relief Fund.It will use data from FEMA, insurance, and public records to identify storm victims and reach them directly. sent support.
The state has pledged $12 million to long-term recovery groups, but has so far paid just over $281,000. In a statement to WDRB News, the state explained what survivors can do going forward.
“The Team WKY Tornado Relief Fund has pledged $12 million to local Long Term Recovery Groups (“LTRGs”) to continue helping survivors with unmet needs. Assistance from the Relief Fund is available in the areas of home repairs, necessary furniture and appliances. , vehicle repair and replacement, terrain repair, mold and mildew remediation, and inspection and permit fees. Eligibility and individuals whose needs are not met should contact their local LTRG for more information. A list of LTRG contacts can be found at TeamWKYReliefFund.ky.gov. All affected communities have funds left.
Graves County Grain Assistance required an application to allow farmers to report potential crop losses, the state said. The application has since closed and 164 farmers have received a total of $3.9 million from the fund.
“We have $5.8 million designated for this area, but we’re being asked to apply for $5,000, $6,000, and $7,000 at a time,” says Reed. “Well, I understand the difficulty of working with government agencies. ing. “
Credit card fees from donations also depleted some of the tornado relief funds. When people donated by credit card, $552,000 was used for credit card fees.
“The payments were above and beyond the FEMA amounts people received, plus deductibles for everyone who has insurance for damaged homes and rental units,” Beshear said. says.
Kentucky has pledged $16 million to build 300 homes with nonprofits, according to state data. Only $1.6 million has been paid out so far.
“Now we’re working with nonprofits and ultimately have a lot of money for them to pull out,” Beshear said. “So we have a lot of houses under construction. But the dollars are gone when they’re finished and the keys are handed over.”
Long-term recovery organizers say they understand it’s a long process, but they’re gathering donations to those in need sooner rather than later.
“It’s easier for them to come to my church and say, ‘We have survivors that cost $7,000, $14,000.'”
As construction and renovations continue, and donations continue to change people’s lives, some hope the state will move payments forward faster.
“We’re having trouble figuring out where the money is, and it’s hard to have some hard feelings about it.” You haven’t come to my house. I never saw us cry because we lost something that we don’t know how to replace.”
“Hopefully we can get that money soon,” Reid said. “I just want people to trust the people who work here.”
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