Western Ky. officials still waiting on substantial tornado relief funding

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Published: Sep. 30, 2022 at 7:44 PM CDT
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HOPKINS CO., Ky. (WFIE) - Nearly 10 months later, and over $9 million spent. Officials say recovery in Western Kentucky has been a lengthy process.

“It’s a huge toll so far that we’ve spent to help clean up the areas of the county that were hit by the tornado,” said Hopkins County Judge Executive Jack Whitfield.

Whitfield says the natural disaster triggered a response from top government officials.

“When the President came down he announced a thirty day 100 percent reimbursement program,” Whitfield said. “Which is great, we just haven’t seen that yet.”

Whitfield says the county has spent $9.2 million in recovery efforts.

So far in Hopkins Co., only $200,000 from FEMA have trickled in according to Whitfield.

“The county, we’re in pretty good financial shape, however something like this is unexpected, you can’t budget for that,” Whitfield said.

Officials say Hopkins Co. then took out two loans. One from the state of Kentucky that totaled $8 million, and another private $6 million loan.

Whitfield says he’s worried about the county not seeing the reimbursement soon.

“Over time if we don’t start to see some of this reimbursement we could get into a financial strain,” Whitfield said.

Both loans have kept the county afloat throughout the process, but that money will need to be repaid.

“It wasn’t to pay the bills for the cleanup, it’s to help us pay our normal everyday bills we have on a regular basis because we have spent so much on the cleanup,” Whitfield said.

FEMA says that they have given over $20 million in reimbursements for debris cleanup and recovery to 23 counties.

“We communicate with FEMA fairly regularly, have different meetings, but they’re not giving us a timeframe for when we’ll start to see that reimbursement,” Whitfield said.

With storm severity seemingly increasing each year, FEMA resources could become strained in the future.

“With the flooding in East Kentucky and now Hurricane Ian, I think that’s probably going to put even more of a strain on FEMA as an organization,” Whitfield said.