Tornado recovery continues as counties await more federal refunds

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(WEHT) Today marks ten months since the Dec. 10 tornado killed dozens of people in western Kentucky and left a path of destruction.

As reconstruction continues, officials in some counties affected that day say they have yet to be fully reimbursed for recovery costs.

Workers are still laying bricks outside the General Baptist Church on Church Street in Bremen, while there is still much work to be done inside. Meanwhile, officials in some tornado-affected counties are concerned about the pace of federal reimbursements they are receiving for tornado-related costs.

“We tried to recover as much as we could,” said Pastor Danny Greene> He says as the work outside progresses, but moves slowly inside due to the availability of contractors and others to perform electrical, plumbing and wall repairs.

“Everyone needs his services, just like us. So we had to wait until we could find people,” he said.

Other landlords and churches are building new buildings around town. Bremen Mayor Allen Miller said a third of residents in Muhlenberg County affected ten months ago are back in permanent accommodation, but some have not decided whether or not to return.

“I just spoke with a young man just a few days ago, and he was like, ‘I still don’t know what to do’. But for the most part people are rebuilding and our neighbors around us are rebuilding” , Greene recalled.

Federal reimbursements to counties are not moving as quickly. Hopkins County Executive Judge Jack Whitfield said they only received $200,000 from FEMA of the $9 million they spent on recovery efforts. He says it could take a year or two before the county gets the money back.

“$9 million is a lot of money, and that’s just one county. People want to ensure that they are reimbursed for the actual expenses that have been incurred. I still think it shouldn’t take that long,” he said. Whitfield also says the process can take a year or two, similar to past recovery efforts after severe weather. He adds that they received $8 million from the state to continue paying their bills until they are fully reimbursed.

Back at the church, Pastor Greene says he hopes people will come back for services next year.

(This story was originally published on October 10, 2022)


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