Three families in Mayfield receive keys to new homes 6 months after deadly tornadoes in Western Kentucky

More than 80 Kentuckians were killed in the December tornadoes

MAYFIELD, Ky. (WTVQ/PRESS RELEASE) – Six months to the day of the December tornadoes that devastated Western Kentucky and took the lives of 81 Kentuckians, Gov. Andy Beshear visited Mayfield to celebrate the first fully constructed new homes going to three local families. The construction of the homes was made possible with funding from the Team Western Kentucky Tornado Relief Fund and the nonprofit Homes and Hope for Kentucky.

“To see three of our Western Kentucky families enter their new homes, only six months after these devastating tornadoes, is truly a remarkable milestone that offers us all a great deal of hope,” said Gov. Beshear. “Today is a culmination of the hard work, determination and compassion of a lot of people and I am grateful to everyone who played a part in making this possible for the Patterson, Russell and Rio families.”

On May 10, Gov. Beshear announced that $16 million from the Team Western Kentucky Tornado Relief Fund would be used to help provide up to 300 homes for families whose homes were lost to the storms. Working with the state’s Public Protection Cabinet, which administers the fund, nonprofit groups Habitat for Humanity, Homes and Hope for Kentucky and The Fuller Center for Housing submitted proposals to build up to 100 homes each. Homes will be built in the counties that were eligible for individual and household assistance through FEMA.

The first three homes were through the nonprofit group Homes and Hope for Kentucky, which partnered with Mennonite Disaster Services and Amish groups in the region to build and repair homes without labor costs. Homes and Hope is expected to fund up to 100 homes with 12 additional houses under construction in Graves County.

“This is a wonderful day, a day of celebration, six months to the day after a terrible tornado changed the face of our town. But that tornado didn’t change the heart of our town and with God’s guidance, people have come together to build back not just these homes, but to build hope in this community,” said Heather Nesler, co-chair of Homes and Hope for Kentucky. “We are indebted to our volunteer partners and early funders that allowed this project to begin, and now with the Western Kentucky Tornado Relief Fund allocation, this project can shift into overdrive, paired with increased numbers of Amish volunteers.”

“I can think of no better way to commemorate the six-month mark of the December 10, 2021, tornadoes than the passing of the keys to the first three new homes completed in Mayfield by Homes and Hope for Kentucky,” said Mayfield Mayor Kathy O’Nan. “Hope is the driving force as we look to the future of our town and this event certainly embodies that feeling!”

West Kentucky State Aid Funding for Emergencies Fund
While in Mayfield, the Governor also awarded Mayfield Electric & Water Systems (MEWS) $15 million for financial assistance from the Kentucky State Aid Funding for Emergencies (SAFE) fund. Today’s award follows two SAFE fund announcements to the area in May, including more than $2 million awarded to MEWS and $2.8 million awarded to the City of Mayfield.

“The response from the Governor’s office has been phenomenal,” said Marty Ivy, general superintendent for MEWS. “These SAFE funds will help get Mayfield Electric and Water Systems rebuilt. We are so thankful for the Governor’s support!”

Following his visit to Mayfield, the Governor also traveled to his dad’s hometown of Dawson Springs to present $1.2 million in SAFE funding for land survey costs. In addition to today’s funding, Dawson Springs also received a $121,047 award from the fund in May, along with $58,500 awarded to Hopkins County earlier this month.

“Many may not realize what the cost of a survey is these days,” said Dawson Springs Mayor Chris Smiley. “This $1.2 million is going to help a lot of people here in Dawson Springs – hopefully even the ones who have already paid.”

Ahead of the recent legislative session, Gov. Beshear recommended appropriations for the SAFE fund, and the 2022 General Assembly supported the aid through Senate Bill 150. The Governor signed the bill into law on April 15, providing $56 million in assistance to help shelter victims, support impacted schools and provide local rebuilding assistance.

The Governor said, “These funds will help cover expenses and services that are not eligible for FEMA aid, and they will help ease some of the financial burdens that these communities have endured.”

To date, $9 million has been approved and spent for travel trailers and $9.5 million has been awarded to schools to provide wrap-around services for students and their families. The school funding will also help support after-school services and activities, mental health counseling services and outside-of-school tutoring. Funds also supported school transportation needs and construction and repairs of school building facilities either destroyed or damaged.

In total, $37.5 million has been awarded to impacted counties to cover services not eligible for FEMA support and to ease some of the financial strain endured during the rebuilding and clean-up efforts.

Transportation Alternatives Program
The Governor also visited Marshall County on Friday where he awarded $868,000 to the City of Benton to improve safety, connectivity and convenience for pedestrians.

Funding will be used to construct seven new five-foot-wide sidewalks and crosswalks near a residential and commercial area that includes banks, shops, restaurants and a post office. The new sidewalks will be built on one side of each of the following streets: West Sixth Street, Seventh Street, Eighth Street, Ash Street, Powell Street, Morningside Drive and Commerce Drive.

“Once complete, the new sidewalks and crosswalks will offer Kentuckians more choices to conveniently get to nearby homes, businesses and retail stores and to safely cross the street,” Gov. Beshear said. “Sidewalks also have the added benefit of supporting better health outcomes by encouraging physical activity.”

The project area is close to an active and growing business area with a large elderly population who walk for exercise as well as a population of Kentuckians who do not own cars.

“Sidewalks give pedestrians the peace of mind they need to travel alongside live traffic safely,” Kentucky Transportation Cabinet Secretary Jim Gray said. “Improving all modes of transportation improves equity and this sidewalk will make a world of difference for residents who may not own a vehicle or prefer to travel on foot.”

TAP is a federally funded reimbursement program administered through KYTC’s Office of Local Programs. Funding supports non-motorized forms of transportation to improve connectivity, accessibility, safety and equity in communities. Transportation projects commonly include bicycle and pedestrian pathways, ADA compliance, Safe Routes to School and wildlife mitigation. The program covers 80% of the project cost.

To learn more about state, federal and local efforts to support Western Kentucky after the storms, click here.

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