FRANKFORT, Ky. – After five tornadoes struck central and western Kentucky Dec. 10-11, what remained was a landscape of damaged homes and businesses, jack-knifed trees stripped of their leaves and shredded debris from whatever got in the way of the sometimes 190-mph twisters. Two months later, the recovery is well underway.
For example, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Louisville District has completed the first pass of debris removal in Graves County and the City of Mayfield, one of the worst hit areas. They have cleared more than 280,000 cubic yards of debris. With support from all levels of government and community organizations, a promising future is visible beyond the wreckage.
FEMA and the U.S. Small Business Administration have approved more than $49.1 million in federal assistance for eligible homeowners and renters who are uninsured or underinsured. That number includes:
- $9 million in FEMA housing assistance,
- $3.5 million in assistance under FEMA’s Other Needs Assistance program, and
- $36.6 million in home and business loans were approved by the SBA, whose disaster loans are the largest source of federal disaster recovery funds for homeowners, renters, businesses and certain nonprofits.
- FEMA plans to begin providing travel trailers or other forms of temporary housing assistance to eligible applicants in the hardest hit counties: Caldwell, Graves, Hopkins, Marshall, Muhlenberg and Warren.
- For these six counties, FEMA also approved an increase in the rental assistance rate for eligible residents in need of temporary housing. With the increase, survivors who are approved for FEMA temporary housing assistance may be able to rent units at 25% above fair market rents established by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. Typically, the HUD fair market rent for a two-bedroom unit in Warren County is $845, but with the 25% increase in rental assistance, a survivor can rent a two-bedroom unit for up to $1,056.
- FEMA opened 18 disaster recovery centers in 14 counties, where residents could meet with FEMA staff and other federal and Commonwealth agencies and receive information in alternate formats such as Braille, large print, audio and electronic versions. Multilingual interpretation was made available in dozens of languages. The recovery centers have tallied more than 5,500 visits. After two months, four of the busiest centers remain open.
- Disaster survivor assistance teams have knocked on more than 11,000 doors in the affected neighborhoods and visited nearly 2,000 community spaces and business locations, helping people apply and providing information on federal programs.
- FEMA’s hazard mitigation specialists are visiting home-improvement stores in the affected areas to share do-it-yourself construction tips and techniques for rebuilding hazard-resistant homes.
- FEMA’s Public Assistance program has also geared up, preparing to help with the cost of everything from debris removal to repairing and rebuilding damaged public infrastructure. The federal disaster declaration designated Caldwell, Christian, Fulton, Graves, Hart, Hickman, Hopkins, Logan, Lyon, Marion, Marshall, Muhlenberg, Ohio, Taylor, Todd and Warren counties for all Public Assistance categories and additional counties for various services such as reimbursement of debris removal expenses.
- Under Public Assistance, a cost-sharing program, FEMA reimburses government and certain nonprofit applicants not less than 75% of eligible costs for clean-up and recovery, with the Commonwealth covering the remaining 25%. For Kentucky, President Biden authorized 100% federal reimbursement for a 30-day period for eligible emergency work.