On Tuesday, April 5, and Wednesday, April 6, Deputy Secretary Adrianne Todman visited Mayfield and Dawson Springs to see in person the disaster-impacted housing and meet with local public housing authorities, elected officials, and residents on recovery efforts.
Conversations with residents provided firsthand accounts of the tornadoes' impact and showed hopefulness for the future. Deputy Secretary Todman and HUD KY staff met with Mayfield Mayor Kathy Stewart O'Nan and Housing Authority Executive Director Greg Vaughn. In Dawson Springs, the Housing Authority Executive Director Steven Parker navigated a comprehensive tour of the devastation and discussed plans to build back.
"We want to make sure that the funds we are providing help building stronger, smarter homes," said HUD Deputy Secretary Adrianne Todman. "HUD stands at the ready to deploy the resources necessary to partner with the communities towards an equitable recovery."
The visit comes on the heels of HUD's March allocation of $75 million to Kentucky in CDBG-DR funds to assist in the recovery from the 2021 disaster. On December 10, 2021, a violent, long-tracked tornado moved across Western Kentucky, producing severe to catastrophic damage in numerous towns, including Mayfield, Princeton, Dawson Springs, and Bremen. Under the President's major disaster declaration issued for the Commonwealth of Kentucky on December 12, 2021, federal funding was made available for emergency work, hazard mitigation, and other needs assistance at 75 percent of the total eligible costs. The assistance was approved for 16 counties – Barren, Caldwell, Christian, Fulton, Graves, Hart, Hickman, Hopkins, Logan, Lyon, Marion, Marshall, Muhlenberg, Ohio, Taylor, and Warren.
FEMA asked for HUD's assistance and issued the agency a mission assignment in late December. HUD's National Disaster Coordinator then requested the Louisville Field Office's aid on January 13 by naming FPM's Senior Management Analyst, David Railey, as the Housing Recovery Support Function's Coordinator. Our Kentucky team has attended multiple FEMA and state-led disaster meetings each week during the past two months.
The KY team was involved in assisting the state even before FEMA's request by contacting housing authorities and multifamily properties to survey damages and help locate assistance for the residents who needed it. Also, at a virtual homeless partnership meeting with officials from the Veterans Administration and nonprofits in Lexington, it was shared that Volunteers of America Midstate (VOAMD) was the recipient of a recent grant providing homeless veterans around Lexington with free mobile hot spots by AT&T.
When the HUD staff heard this, they immediately asked if the grant could be used to assist families with communication issues in the 16 counties that were affected by storms. AT&T and VOAMD agreed to provide any veteran in the storm zone a hot spot. As a result of the connection, seven families in the disaster zone were supplied with a complimentary hot spot. The road to recovery continues, invigorated by Deputy Secretary Todman's visit.