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Officials in Graves Co. answer questions on rebuilding, receiving aid and more in information briefing

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A panel of local, state and federal leaders at the briefing.

Federal, state and local officials in Graves County answered questions from social media on a variety of topics ranging from rebuilding the city of Mayfield, being connected with aid, and more in an information briefing live-streamed Tuesday evening on Facebook.

Along with the mayor of Mayfield and Graves County leadership, representatives from federal, state and private agencies and organizations at the briefing included: the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the Small Business Administration, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the Kentucky Attorney General’s Office, the Kentucky Army National Guard, the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet, Kentucky Emergency Management and the Red Cross.

“The folks that you see here, we are here until the end to help get through this process,” Graves County Judge-Executive Jesse Perry said. “Lots of folks working behind the scenes.”

Rebuilding Committee

Mayfield Mayor Kathy O’Nan said planning to create a committee to help coordinate the rebuilding of downtown Mayfield began “basically yesterday,” and while she wishes such a committee was in place right now, she also understands the careful considerations for rebuilding.

She said she wants people from the wider community to be involved on the new committee and not just those directly connected to downtown Mayfield.

“The history of our downtown changed on December the 10th. It will never look the same. But I can guarantee you that everyone here, we are wanting to make it better than ever before,” O’Nan said. “We have a chance to reinvent ourselves.”

She also said she understood the importance that certain destroyed buildings in Mayfield may have for community members, but urged residents not to enter and take mementos while destroyed buildings are unsafe.

Graves County Judge-Executive Jesse Perry said he and O’Nan have been talking with other communities who have been through similar disasters on how to move forward. He said he would like to see the destroyed county courthouse restored to what it was before.

Future Housing, Food and Supplies

Officials at the information briefing heard several questions asking about being connected to hot meals, housing and supplies such as gasoline for generators in future weeks. Throughout the briefing, officials and leaders urged Graves County residents with various needs to call a local hotline manned from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. each day, including being monitored overnight. That hotline can be reached at 270-727-5114.

Graves County Office of Emergency Management Director Tracy Warner said the county fairgrounds is still serving as a distribution center for hot meals and other supplies.

O’Nan said the city council is planning on meeting weekly in the future and will strongly consider allowing temporary housing to be placed on private property in the city.

City and county leadership recommended those needing housing assistance reach out to the Red Cross, which is coordinating temporary shelters.

Ongoing Debris Cleanup

A representative with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers said the federal agency was leading ongoing efforts to clean up debris throughout the city. USACE Local Government Liaison Andrew Auxier said the agency is asking as trucks come through neighborhoods to pick up debris that it be sorted, such as separating potentially hazardous waste. He said the agency began its clean-up efforts last week and expects to have 20 trucks in the area by the end of this week.

“I want to emphasize that we’re not going to come to your street one time. We’ll make multiple passes. You’ll have ample opportunity to get that stuff taken care of,” Auxier said.

He said he’s working on getting information on when clean-up trucks will be in specific neighborhoods and areas in the county so residents can know when to have debris ready for disposal by the road.

Appealing Federal Aid Denials

Some questions answered during the briefing detailed those who have been initially denied aid from FEMA and the Small Business Administration.

FEMA Public Affairs Specialist La-Tanga Hopes said appealing denials usually means correcting application information and can be done locally at Disaster Recovery Centers set up throughout the region. Sally Graham with the Small Business Administration said appeals of SBA aid can also be done at these centers.

Hopes also said for those who are ultimately ineligible for aid, FEMA Voluntary Agency Liaisons can help connect those who still need aid with private community and volunteer agencies who can provide assistance.

Law Enforcement Updates

Mayfield Police Chief Nathan Kent said he isn’t sure when the current curfew for the city of Mayfield would be lifted and that his department hasn’t arrested anyone yet over the curfew. He said he doesn’t want the curfew to affect the normal operating hours for local businesses.

Graves County Sheriff Jon Hayden said those with obligations regarding scheduled court dates and jury duty are not required to show in the coming weeks due to current conditions.

A questioner also raised concerns regarding some landlords spiking rent prices for those displaced and looking for new housing. A representative with Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron’s Office said those facing situations such as that should file an online price gouging complaint or call the office’s price gouging hotline at 1-888-432-9257.

"Liam Niemeyer is a reporter for the Ohio Valley Resource covering agriculture and infrastructure in Ohio, Kentucky and West Virginia and also serves Assistant News Director at WKMS. He has reported for public radio stations across the country from Appalachia to Alaska, most recently as a reporter for WOUB Public Media in Athens, Ohio. He is a recent alumnus of Ohio University and enjoys playing tenor saxophone in various jazz groups."
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