FEMA searching for people who need aid in western Kentucky

$5.5 million issued so far to help with tornado relief
FEMA searching for people who need aid in western Kentucky
Published: Dec. 30, 2021 at 7:33 PM CST
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HOPKINS CO., Ky. (WFIE) - The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is offering to help anyone impacted by the tornadoes that hit the western parts of Kentucky in early December.

Part of that job is finding the people who need the help.

With train cars tipped over, and homes stripped down to the bone, western Kentucky is covered in damage from the tornado.

”It looked like, to me, someone just dropped a bomb up here,” said James Townsell, whose mother’s home was destroyed in the tornado.

This is why FEMA has taken to the streets, searching for people to register for government aid. Despite all the destruction, many people are still in their damaged homes.

”After something happens like this, many people don’t want to leave their homes,” said Jane Ricks, a FEMA crew lead. “They may not have power, they may have only a few possessions and they want to be with their possessions. They may not have the transportation, so we go out as a team in pairs of two, and we knock on doors.”

As of December 28, FEMA officials say they have issued $5.5 million to people for tornado relief, but they say the need is greater.

They say some people are hesitant to apply for aid, especially if those around them took more damage, but FEMA says everyone affected should apply, and there’s enough aid for everyone.

In their time in the Bluegrass State, some FEMA workers have become pretty enamored with the commonwealth.

”I love Kentucky, I think it’s great, I do,” said Ricks. “These people are wonderful, they are. I’ve never seen such salt-of-the-earth people.”

For those affected by the tornadoes, the help can’t come soon enough, since clean-up can be an intimidating job.

”It means a lot, because like my brother came in from Evansville, he said, ‘Where do we start it up here?’” said Townsell.

The money that FEMA gives is intended for a wide range of expenses - from home repairs and temporary housing costs, to medical expenses and even funeral costs for those who lost loved ones.

FEMA officials say to watch out for imposters and scammers. They say FEMA officials will always have an ID and give you their name, which you can use to verify who they are by calling FEMA directly.

If you’re interested in applying for FEMA assistance, visit disasterassistance.gov, call FEMA directly at 1-800-621-3362, or get the FEMA app.

Those FEMA officials will be working different hours on New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day.

Recovery centers will be open from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. Friday and will be closed on Saturday.

Officials want to make sure those in disaster areas know the Red Cross is opening an emergency shelter.

You can call (800) RED-CROSS to find where those shelters are if you are in need.

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