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Kentucky towns learning lessons from Joplin tornadoes

A devastated community and a major rebuilding project is underway in many Kentucky towns due of the deadly tornadoes several weeks ago.

The rebuilding story is one already being told in Joplin, Missouri, where an EF-5 tornado destroyed a third of the city and killed 161 people last May.

WKYT's Phil Pendleton went to Joplin following the storms to get a feel for what that town is doing because many of the same lessons could be put in place here.

Folks on Kentucky Avenue in Joplin say they know what people in the bluegrass state are going through.

A Joplin resident says, "It's a long hard road and there will be times when you don't want to do it anymore. don't give up." They survived the May 22 EF-5 tornado in a closet.

For seven months, they lived in a hotel room. Their house is only one of handful of homes on their street that have been rebuilt.

Their things can be replaced, but finding psychological peace, they say, is a different story.

"I go to a support group every Wednesday."

When they rebuilt their home, they invested 4-thousand dollars in a safe room.

"It's not the expense, it's the peace of mind."

In the town of 50,000 people, nearly 600 businesses were destroyed. Thousands were temporarily out of work, yet 10 months later, 80 percent of their businesses are now back in operation.

City officials say the community has shown remarkable resiliency and toughness amidst so much initial chaos.

"People here banded together early. Neighbor helping neighbor. Complete strangers stopping to help."

Similar stories are already being told here in Kentucky. It's the heart of this community that's being credited in its recovery.

"Through about 6 public input meetings, we took ideas on how they would want the community rebuilt, we received 1,500 ideas."

People in the area say it takes time and patience, but the message for our towns in Kentucky is somehow you find a way to get it done.


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