Recovery efforts continue as Kentucky communities mark somber anniversary
MAYFIELD, Ky. (WKYT) - December 10 marks a somber anniversary for many communities in central and western Kentucky. It’s the night violent and deadly tornadoes carved miles of destruction and changed lives forever.
Mayfield was one of the hardest-hit towns. The downtown district was flattened by an EF-4 twister.
When you drive around town, you see a lot fewer buildings than were there before and immediately after the storm. Many were so heavily damaged they had to be torn down, such as the courthouse:
Progress has been made on rebuilding the 500 homes either damaged or destroyed in Mayfield. Volunteers from all over the country have helped with the rebuild either by donating supplies or getting to work.
A lot of the work to get homes rebuilt comes through the Mayfield-Graves County Long Term Recovery Group. Ryan Drane is the group’s executive director.
“One thing that I never thought about before the tornado, because I’ve responded to some disasters, never one of this size, is the emotional toll that it takes living in a disaster area,” Drane said. “I think it’s different going in and helping with recovery for a few days or a week, and completing the task that you went there to do. But when you live in an area, and it’s your town, it’s your home, it takes an emotional toll on everyone.”
Drane says, despite seeing so much loss and buildings gone, the community is still showing strength and hoping for a brighter future.
The Mayfield-Graves County Long Term Recovery Group is running a program called Home for the Holidays. Through the program, the group is buying homes for renters to move into while they build the finances to buy them.
“We took a look around, and we said, ‘we have a lot of great partners that are doing new construction. But new construction takes time. We happen to have a lot of vacant properties that are here in the community,’” said Drane.
The recovery group will help families with financial literacy and other support to be able to one day buy the home, giving them a new beginning after such a tragedy.
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“The tornado killed a lot of branches of our community tree. And we’ve had to prune them. We had to take down a lot of buildings. But, next year, we are super excited about the growth,” said Drane.
Something unique about the rebuilding the recovery group is doing is they are using materials that can withstand strong winds and storms, like homes along the coast with hurricane shutters and shingles.
They are also building storm shelters as well for these homes.
The recovery group says they still need both volunteers and monetary donations to keep their mission on track.
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