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Millions allocated from Team Western Kentucky Tornado Relief Fund for individual assistance

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Governor Andy Beshear
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Gov. Andy Beshear announced $12 million dollars of the Team Western Kentucky Tornado Relief Fund will go to direct individual assistance like furniture and transportation needs.

So far, the fund has received about $52 million in donations to help with the recovery process from December’s deadly tornado outbreak. Some of the funding has been used to pay for the funerals of those who passed due to the tornado outbreak and to match some Federal Emergency Management Agency assistance.

There was also another program to provide assistance to insured homeowners and renters impacted by the storms. In May, $16 million were given to three charities helping rebuild homes to support the building of 300 homes for tornado victims. In June, $3 million went to establish the Graves County Grain Assistance Program to help grain farmers in tornado-impacted areas who face additional financial consequences from the storm damage.

During a news conference on Thursday, Beshear said the latest round of funding will go directly to individuals for a variety of recovery needs.

“This funding will help individuals who, for example, have possibly received assistance for housing, they still don't have a refrigerator,” Beshear said. “Maybe they've lost their transportation, or they need essential furniture.”

Long term recovery groups in tornado-impacted communities will be able to work with individuals to identify unmet needs and apply for assistance.

So far $41.5 million has been issued for a variety of efforts from the Team Western Kentucky Tornado Relief Fund. The state legislature also set aside $200 million to assist the tornado recovery efforts.

On Thursday, Beshear also provided an update on recent Christmas in July events that were coordinated by Kentucky First Lady Britainy Beshear to help children impacted by the tornadoes.

“In First Lady fashion, she wanted to make sure that these kids got another great day, because maybe if we can just stack up good day after good day after good day, it can fight the trauma of that one bad night that they had to endure,” Beshear said.

During the Christmas in July visits, Beshear announced a series of community investments to improve broadband access in Kentucky.

The funds distributed were about $1.8 million to Southern Central Telecom in Bowling Green for internet expansion in Edmonson and Warren counties; about $13.8 million to Pennyrile Rural Electric Co-Op in Dawson Springs for Caldwell, Christian, Lyon, Trigg and Todd counties; about $4.6 million to Gibson Connect in Mayfield for Graves, Fulton, Hickman and Carlisle counties; and about $3.3 million to West Kentucky Rural Telephone Co-Op in Gilbertsville to expansion in Marshall and Calloway counties. Additionally, $100,000 were presented in Dawson Springs to help rebuild the city park that was destroyed by the December storms and about $15,000 were presented for HH Lovett Park in Benton.

Beshear said broadband will be a “present for the community.”

“These are families that had lost almost everything, and they were not only happy, they were almost jubilant, that others would have an opportunity to be connected to internet, that others would have real opportunity,” he said.

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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