KENTUCKY — An ice storm made its way into Kentucky in early February and impacted parts of the Commonwealth that are still recovering from the destructive and deadly tornado outbreak from back in December 2021.
During this In Focus Kentucky segment, Jonathon Gregg returns to Mayfield in Graves County, where work in the city has been constant – including families who have had to tear down their homes and contractors working hard to save buildings.
U.S. Representative James Comer (R) represents Kentucky's 1st Congressional District and is the top Republican on the House Committee on Oversight and Reform. The guest on this week's program, Comer made stops across several western Kentucky counties over the last couple of months to meet with constituents affected by the deadly and destructive storms that swept across Kentucky.
He also accompanied President Joe Biden throughout his trip to Kentucky to survey damage in the wake of deadly tornadoes.
"Tornadoes just rip everything up inside, but the overwhelming majority of damage I've seen from a tornado was out in rural areas. It may have gone through a bunch of barns. It may have gone through a little strip in a populated community. But the width of that tornado, it was almost a mile wide in certain spots and 222 miles long. So the width and length of that tornado was like none I've ever seen and unfortunately, the path went through a lot of towns, not just Mayfield to Dawson Springs, but Arlington and other communities that had quite a bit of population. So I've never seen anything like it and hope to never see anything like that again," Rep. Comer said.
During the interview, Congressman Comer also sharerd his feedback on the response from the federal government in the hours after the tornado touching down in Western Kentucky.
"We wanted to make sure FEMA was on the ground as quick as possible and they were. FEMA was on the ground within 24 hours. The first priority is the people. You want to make sure that everyone's been rescued and recovered and that took several days as you know... And then the next phase was working with the local elected officials to make sure that they got reimbursed for debris removal. I can't emphasize enough how important that was to these communities that the tornadoes, there were three that day, the third one started actually where I am now in Monroe County and went up through make Marion County which is in my district. Taylor and Marion County did quite a bit of damage up there. But the cost to the fiscal court and the City Council's the city council's like Princeton, Dawson springs, Mayfield, for debris removal is astronomical. And we had to make sure that the federal government would reimburse those communities because if you're the mayor of Dawson Springs or the mayor of Mayfield, you just had a significant amount of your occupational tax and property tax destroyed by the tornado. So thus far, the response from FEMA has been pretty good. We're getting reimbursed for those communities. 100% For the first 30 days and 90% for the 30 days after that. So I think the mayors and county judges are for the most part, fairly satisfied with the federal response thus far," Comer explained.
You can watch the full In Focus segment above.