News and Music Discovery
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations

Mayfield-Graves County Long Term Recovery Group gives tornado survivor renovated home

Morgan Puckett

A Mayfield group focused on the community’s recovery from the deadly and historic tornado outbreak that impacted the region last year hit a big milestone Monday, giving its first newly renovated home to an unhoused survivor.

The Mayfield-Graves County Long Term Recovery Group’s New Lease on Life program – which is aimed at housing tornado victims that lost their homes in the disaster – presented Kay Houston with the keys to a Maple Street home renovated by a partnering church, Community Fellowship Baptist Church.

Kay Houston lost both her home and her job at Mayfield Consumer Products – the candle factory that collapsed under the force of the EF-4 tornado – in the storm. She called the group’s efforts “amazing and overwhelming.”

“What was so weird is that night I had COVID, so I wasn’t there [at the factory]. So I was maybe about two or three blocks away,” Houston said. “The tornado messed my life up, flipped my whole world. I had to start over, I had to find another job. [It’s] a tragedy but also a blessing that brought the whole community together.”

Houston is just one of many survivors who will receive a home through the New Lease on Life program, which aims to purchase and renovate between 25 and 50 Graves County homes for survivors. The long term recovery group purchases vacant homes in the city of Mayfield and Graves County and utilizes a network of partners, including regional churches and nonprofits, to make needed repairs and improvements.

The long term recovery group’s effort is one of several to rebuild and renovate homes for survivors in a community that lost thousands of structures to the storm.

Disaster case managers help the group to identify eligible survivors and match them with homes based upon family size, location and financial sustainability. After a year of leasing, the survivors will have the opportunity to purchase the home at a significantly reduced rate.

Moving forward, the group also expects to team up with the Energy and Environment Cabinet and post-disaster architectural and engineering professionals to repair and renovate homes to include modern  resiliency measures. These homes will also include energy efficient appliances and heating/cooling units to lower the cost of home ownership.

“What's next for us is to continue putting more survivors in homes. Not only meeting housing needs, but also meeting any other needs they have,” said Ryan Drane, the group’s executive director. “They could be from counseling to automobiles, furniture, appliances, anything like that we got to do to make them whole. That's our intention.”

Drane said this progress is good, but he knows that there’s still a long way to go for the community to heal.

“Recovery is tough,” he said. “It’s a grueling process and it takes longer than anyone wants it to, but we have a lot of people here that are resilient, that are dedicated to working through whatever issues, whatever needs are addressed.”

More information on the Mayfield Long Term Recovery Group, volunteer opportunities and its programs – including New Lease on Life – is available on the group’s website.

Morgan Puckett is a sophomore from Olney, Illinois, majoring in public relations with a minor in criminal justice and political science at Murray State University.
Related Content