Community devastated by December tornadoes thankful for kindness of strangers

Community devastated by December tornadoes thankful for kindness of strangers
Published: Nov. 22, 2022 at 3:00 PM EST
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MAYFIELD, Ky. (WKYT) - As many across Kentucky head to their Thanksgiving destination, the communities impacted by the December 2021 tornadoes are still working to rebuild.

We spoke with Mayfield Mayor Kathy O’Nan who says the city’s landscape has changed since December 10, 2021, but the hearts of everyone are still Mayfield Strong.

“I love to tell our story. It is to me, the tornado is just the beginning of that story,” said Mayor Kathy O’Nan. “And it took everything you know. Our downtown is just completely gone.”

Now, 11 months later, O’Nan says there is one word used to describe the historic downtown Mayfield - barren.

“We are very flat. I talk to people all the time and I experience this myself. I get turned around,” O’Nan said. “Our landmarks are gone. Sometimes I get excited seeing that barren land because it has to be barren before rebuilding starts.”

Where the historic courthouse once stood is an empty lot surrounded by fencing. Across the street, north of the courthouse, empty lots that were once filled with homes and families.

However, through the emptiness, you still find progress.

“We are so fortunate in the non-profits that are here helping build homes to replace,” said O’Nan. “We lost about 250 homes, half of them were rental property. Samaritan’s Purse is building a subdivision right on the border of the city limits and there are 40 homes that they are building there.”

For the past year, groups from across the nation have come to Mayfield to help feed, repair and build homes for the survivors of the December tornado.

O’Nan says it’s the kindness of strangers that the community has leaned on during its hardest days.

“We have been so blessed. So very blessed that in spite of what we lost seeing people from all over the Commonwealth and the United States,” O’Nan said. “The kindnesses that they have extended to us. I don’t go anywhere in Kentucky that several people don’t say to me we are still praying for you.”

O’Nan says it’s not just homes being rebuilt, most of the businesses that were destroyed by the tornado are also committed to rebuilding.