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Around one fifth of 200 travel trailers have been given to tornado survivors so far

Governor Andy Beshear presented travel trailers keys to women who were affected by the December tornado outbreak.
Lily Burris
Governor Andy Beshear presented travel trailers keys to women who were affected by the December tornado outbreak.

Three women who lived in the same housing complex during the December tornado outbreak received travel trailer keys on Mar. 11 as a part of the ongoing work of the Commonwealth Sheltering Program.

Governor Andy Beshear spoke in Mayfield at the Country Living Mobile Home Community on Friday as these three women received access to medium-term housing in the form of travel trailers through the program.

“I'm so proud of the people of this community,” Beshear said. “They show the world that Kentuckians do not break, not to pandemics, not to ice storms, not to flooding, not even to tornadoes this difficult and this deadly.”

In the six weeks since the start of the process of handing out trailer keys, 37 of the 200 trailers paid for by Kentucky House Bill 5 have been given to tornado survivors. The trailers have been placed in a variety of locations across four counties including mobile home communities and state parks. As of Mar. 10, three months since the tornado outbreak, 116 tornado survivors are being housed in state parks, according to the Governor’s office.

“We are taking the difficult but necessary step now of moving from the emergency phase, where people were primarily in lodges and motels and getting them into travel trailers to have in their own space to get people back on that road towards self sufficiency,” Beshear said.

Glynda Sue Glover, a lifelong Mayfield resident, is one of the three women who received trailer keys. She said she’s glad to be out of Kenlake State Resort Park and back in Mayfield where her son and daughter-in-law live. She lived in Mayfield Manor, a housing community impacted by the tornado, for 17 years and she’d like to go back when they’ve finished repairs.

“If they repair our complex, I'll go back there, but if they don't we're here for six months,” Glover said.

Kyle Poat, chief district engineer for the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet District 1, said he thinks the pace they’ve been able to set up these travel trailers for families to live in has been good.

“Honestly, I think you'll find that here in the last week and moving forward we will actually accelerate,” Poat said. “We had some kinks to work out on the front end, and we've hit our stride now.”

The time it takes for the KYTC to set up the travel trailers is about three days, but varies depending on if the site already has hook ups for the septic and electric or if the location has already been completely cleared of debris. It can also take longer on private property if the utility company has to come out and set something up.

“We're just proud that we can offer this service to these folks, not just here in Mayfield, but across the entire western Kentucky area that were affected by these tornadoes and that we know that we can provide something that gets them a little closer to home and gives them a little sense of security and a little flavor of home,” Poat said. “That is the part that makes us happy.”

To qualify for the travel trailers, tornado survivors are encouraged to apply for assistance in as many places as possible. The Governor’s office has a website dedicated to tornado resources with a specific link to register for sheltering needs. The state is also using the Federal Emergency Management Agency, who’s application deadline is on Mar. 14, to verify people’s level of need.

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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