STAMPING GROUND – A disaster relief fund established more than 10 months ago is gathering dust, with $12,625 waiting to be used.
On December 6, 2021, a National Weather Service confirmed EF1 tornado struck the mobile home park with winds measured at 95 miles per hour. A straight-line wind measured at 80 miles per hour also hit Duvall Station. Although no one was seriously injured, the tornado left 23 homes, a tobacco barn, several damaged fences and trees in its wake.
The tornado and high winds were part of a heavy rain shower, which created areas of high water. No tornado warning was issued for the area to give residents time to prepare. The storm’s path left tangled electrical wires, downed trees and power outages in Scott County.
The News-Graphic reported that a nearby mobile home was stacked on top of another and several others were badly damaged. Many houses were lifted from their foundations, others were knocked down or blown on top of another house. Code enforcement condemned 10 of the park’s 34 trailers and said half had suffered major structural damage and the other half had been displaced from its foundation.
Georgetown-Scott County EMS/OHS Executive Director Michael Hennigan reported the destruction spread to Duvall Station Road, where residents between 706 and 731 suffered damage.
In an open records request to the City of Stamping Ground, the News-Graphic asked for information about the relief fund, including how it was developed, how donations were raised, a financial breakdown of the funds, the amount of the remaining funds and what the city’s plans were for the remaining balance. The following information was collected and provided by Stamping Ground City Clerk Reda Conn.
According to a letter from Conn, the City of Stamping Ground launched the disaster relief fund after the tornado damaged property at Parker’s Mobile Home Park in early December 2021.
Conn said a table was created to organize names, check/cash numbers, date and amounts. The money obtained was deposited into the city’s general fund, she said.
“The city would receive checks in the mail or citizens would come to city hall and give their check or money to the clerk. Their name, date, check/cash number and amount were written on the spreadsheet. Money was also sent to the city by various organizations. Regular deposits were made, recorded and stored in a special envelope labeled “Disaster Relief”. The total amount received was $13,925,” Conn said in his letter.
The documents show that several individuals and organizations donated various amounts to the fund, including the Georgetown-Scott County Tourism Commission which donated $1,000.
In a letter to Stamping Ground Mayor Keith Murphy, Executive Director of Tourism Lori Saunders said the donation was made “to show our support for those affected by the recent tornado that struck and caused so much damage to residents who live at Stamping Ground. Saunders said it was at the city’s discretion how the money would be distributed “where you feel it is most needed.” She added that her office will continue to keep their Stamping Ground friends and neighbors in their thoughts and prayers.
Like the donation from the tourist office, the donations were deposited in the general fund of the city managed by WesBanco. Various filings were made on the following dates: December 10, 2021; December 14, 2021; December 17, 2021; December 22, 2021; January 5, 2022; January 14, 2022; and February 23, 2022.
“Every citizen affected by the tornado was encouraged to let the city know what they needed. The city was working with EMA Director Mike Hennigan to help victims,” Conn said.
She added that only one couple had asked for help with a deposit and the first month’s rent, for which a check was written and made payable to the owner of Parker’s Mobile Home Park. A copy of that check and letter of demand was also attached to the documents requested by News-Graphic.
Hennigan sent a letter to Murphy requesting a disbursement of $1,300 from the Stamping Ground Disaster Recovery Fund to cover requested rental assistance (first month and down payment) for one of the families whose home was completely destroyed by the tornado. . Hennigan said the family decided to move rather than replace their home in Parker’s Mobile Home Park. He requested that the check be addressed to Withers Properties, LLC., and told the mayor in his Jan. 5 letter that he would provide proper documentation on the use of the funds once the lease was signed.
A copy of the requested check was also made available to the News-Graphic.
“The rest of the disaster relief money in the amount of $12,625 is still in our general fund account,” Conn said. “We have contacted Mike Hennigan about this, but have not received any information from him.”
The News-Graphic also attempted to contact Murphy, who chairs Stamping Ground’s finance and administration department in addition to being the town’s mayor. This department oversees the preparation of the city’s annual budget, revenue collection and expenditure, taxation, the operation of city hall and city employees, as listed on the City of Stamping Ground’s website.
No response was received from Murphy by the press deadline.