KENTUCKY’S RECOVERY: First Steps on Our Long Journey Back
Last Friday, over the weekend and for years to come, citizens throughout our Commonwealth face the long road toward being able to deal with one of the most life changing events one could ever hope to survive.
10:58am, Friday, March 2. The following was issued by your KY Emergency Management: “… the main storm front will be in and around Nashville, TN and Western KY at approx. 2:00 pm eastern standard time… most of Western, South Central, Southern and Southeastern Ky. has the greatest chance of tornado activity. The state of KY is rated a 7 out of 10 chance of tornados touching down. If tornados do touchdown…conditions are right for them to stay on the ground for an extended period of time. Straight line winds of 60-75 mph are expected. The jet stream is moving at 150 mph. The storm front will appear quickly and with extreme power. Everyone needs to be prepared to move to safety quickly”. How terribly accurate they were.
Rep. John Will Stacy of West Liberty delivered an emotional report on his community’s efforts to cope. He gave a warm “thank you” to the media, without which, he noted perhaps hundreds of lives would have been lost. Our state Emergency Management team, the Weather Channel, local TV forecasters and radio outlets all deserve a well earned “Thank You” from a grateful Commonwealth. They kept us informed and updated on rapidly changing weather and emergency conditions!
A chilling reminder of the horror of it all came into my office. That we must use this tragedy to now demand better access to emergency information for our visually impaired and our deaf and hard of hearing citizens was driven home just yesterday. Reps from the Blind Veterans Association, Independence Place (in Lexington) and others met with me and revealed they have lost members in Eastern KY to the tornado. Citizens who could not see, or who could not hear died in the tornado — and it is haunting to now speculate whether they ever saw or heard reports of their pending doom… I pray the Governor, the appropriate Cabinet Secretaries and others with access to means of communicating with these differently abled populations will come together and do what is necessary to insure blind and deaf citizens have access to emergency information…. Information, thanks to the media, we take for granted.
6:15pm, Friday. Situation Report (compilation): “Severe storms began impacting the Commonwealth this afternoon beginning in the far western part of the state and following up and across the Ohio river from Indiana crossing into the state north of Louisville”.
“Governor Beshear has warned Kentuckians to stay alert. Trimble Co has established an evacuation center at the Morgan Community Center (Bedford). National Guard currently doing damage assessments in Trimble County. Initial confirmation of an apartment collapse in Grant County-Harvester Subdivision no fatalities only minor injuries. Kenton County reported multiple structures damaged with potential trapped occupants. Reports of numerous homes without roofs in Centertown, Hartford and Olaton areas. Several mobiles homes blown off foundations and overturned vehicles in the Centertown-Hartford-Olaton line”.
“National Guard Elements are staging out of the Walton and Carrolton Armories for situation awareness. We anticipate security mission requests. Department of Public Health has issued information and preparedness guidance for sheltering including morbidity surveillance, food and water safety. Todd County has two shelters. Danville in Boyle County has shelters open as a pre-caution. Daviess County has storm shelters on standby. Powell County has 2 storm shelters on standby. Hancock County, Storm Shelters only. Whitley County storm shelters available Williamsburg”.
And the Situation Reports continued to be issued throughout the weekend and on into this week.
Tuesday, 3:40pm: SitRep: “The Commonwealth continues to mourn the loss of 22 fellow citizens as emergency response and recovery operations increase in size and pace. The Kentucky National Guard has deployed 386 soldiers across 10 counties, engaging in direct support to local emergency and recovery operations. KYEM has established online assistance:
* help to locate loved ones: http://kyem.ky.gov/missingperson/Pages/default.aspx;
* to volunteer services/goods: http://kyem.ky.gov/recovery/pages/volunteerCoordination.aspx
* to donate cash to disaster victims: http://kyem.ky.gov/donationsvolunteers/Pages/default.aspx”
9:18pm: “ Governor Beshear was notified tonight that President Barack Obama has authorized assistance for residents of seven Kentucky Counties that suffered significant damage. The President’s action makes federal funding available to affected individuals in counties of Johnson, Kenton, Laurel, Lawrence, Menifee, Morgan, and Pendleton. Damage surveys are continuing in other areas, and more counties and additional forms of assistance may be designated after the assessments are fully completed”.
Wednesday, 8:37am: SitRep: “I am sure you are already aware of the Individual Assistance Declaration but I wanted to make sure. This was an exceptionally quick response. FEMA will start arriving on ground today. The Governor has stressed that we are to continue at a high level of response and assist in getting FEMA resources in place ASAP. This is great news for the affected citizens as IA can have money in the hands of citizens within days.”
The long road has begun…and while we cannot see the end, we know we are headed in the right direction.
In whatever way you deem appropriate, please keep the families, the victims, the officials and please keep the first responders and those providing medical care to the tornado victims in your hearts and prayers.
Use the links above and help out any way you can. Know that I am glad you and your families are safe.
Call me directly at 502.564.8100 or write me at Rm. 329C, Capitol Annex, 702 Capitol Avenue, Frankfort, KY 40601. I’m also on FACEBOOK so hit me up there or online at Reginald.Meeks@lrc.ky.gov or at http://reginaldmeeks.com. To reach any particular legislator, contact our toll – free number at 800.372.7181. For the deaf or hard-of-hearing, that number is 800.896.0305.