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Federal grant available to employers and employees impacted by December tornado outbreak

Firefighters survey tornado damages in downtown Mayfield, Kentucky.
Brett Carlsen
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Getty Images
Firefighters survey tornado damages in downtown Mayfield, Kentucky.

West Kentucky Workforce Board officials have available federal grant funding aiming to help dislocated employees and overburdened employers impacted by the Dec. 10 tornadoes.

The WKWB received an $8 million, two-year grant – nicknamed “Project Twister” – from the US Department of Labor through the Kentucky Education and Workforce Cabinet in the aftermath of the tornadoes. The grant works with employers who have increased staff needs from the tornado and people who filed for unemployment after the tornado.

Cissy Fox, WKWB direct services coordinator and the associate director of the Workforce Innovation & Opportunity Act at the Purchase Area Development District, said board staff were in Graves County and Dawson Springs, Kentucky in the week after the tornado outbreak to provide assistance. People and organizations in Caldwell, Christian, Fulton, Graves, Hickman, Hopkins, Lyon, Marshall and Muhlenberg counties are eligible for assistance from this grant.

Fox said an example of people who this grant would help are the workers in the Mayfield candle factory that collapsed from the natural disaster

“Some of them have been called back to work, but many of those individuals were laid off for some time or are still currently laid off,” Fox said.

For the employers, Fox said the target groups for the grant assistance are nonprofits and local governments doing some type of humanitarian work in relation to the tornadoes, such as cleaning up debris or managing donations.

“Some of the local governments, obviously here in Mayfield, have additional needs, like administrative type needs, people to answer phones, answer questions, tell people this is the place where you need to go in this community to get this service or that service,” Fox said. “We have worked with some of those agencies and nonprofits in helping with additional staffing needs in that manner.”

WKWB Tuition Assistance All-Centers
Provide by Yuri Chetawatee
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WKWB Tuition Assistance Flyer

The grant has other uses, like providing tuition assistance to those who have lost their jobs due to the tornado. Yuri Chetawatee, a career coach at PADD, said there are programs within the workforce board that can help people facing issues with their jobs and income. Those programs include things like short-term and on-the-job training, programs for displaced homemakers and programs for low-income adults.

“The first step, we just encourage individuals who contact us,” Chetawatee said. “There are several career coaches that we can provide, and we can assist individuals to get through this program.”

To contact WKWB about this program, you can call or text 270-889-1157 or email TornadoRecovery@purchaseadd.org for more information.

Lily Burris is a tornado recovery reporter for WKMS, Murray State's NPR Station. Her nine month reporting project is supported by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.
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