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Kentucky Provides Trailers for Tornado Survivors in Mayfield, Dawson


DAWSON SPRINGS, Kentucky— For nearly 50 days, Hilda Miller bounced between the homes of her family members, separated from two teenage grandsons she was caring for.

The trio lived comfortably in a trailer until a tornado swept through the area in early December, crumpling the structure and leaving the family homeless alongside hundreds of others in western Kentucky.

Miller had worried about finding a place where the three could reunite ever since.

But on Friday, as the family moved into an RV in a Kentucky state park, their anxiety finally subsided.

“It’s a lifesaver for now, let me tell you,” Miller said as her grandsons sat at a small table behind her. “I’m just happy, and I think the boys are too.”

Related: Western Kentucky already had a shortage of affordable housing. Then the tornadoes hit

The two-bedroom motorhome at Pennyrile Forest State Resort Park, about six miles from Miller’s hometown of Dawson Springs, is one of 200 travel trailers purchased with state funds for survivors of the tornado who are still struggling to find adequate housing.

Kentucky lawmakers approved spending $15 million on trailers earlier this month, and 20 are expected to be filled with local families.

Gov. Andy Beshear traveled to Pennyrile, where 10 campers are, on Friday to meet with Miller and other residents who were the first to move in.

“What you see around you here is the start of what I would call ‘mid-term housing’ to help our families get back on their feet,” he said. “…I know it’s not life getting back to normal, it’s just a little bit closer to normal as we go down this path.”

The state’s initial focus will be to provide housing for families with school-aged children who need to be close to their districts, Beshear said, followed by families with young children and people who need to be close to the work.

The state is able to offer the trailers for up to six months through a program with the Federal Emergency Management Agency, and it can request an additional six months at the end of that period.

FEMA also promised to send more trailers to the hardest-hit counties in Kentucky. But he did not say how many or when they will be available.

Kentucky tornadoes: Dawson Springs school returns to class and begins journey to normalcy

Beshear and other officials acknowledge that campers are a temporary measure, intended to support families until they can move into more permanent accommodation.

But for now, Miller said his RV was “a blessing.”

“Something will come later, but for now I’m happy,” she said.

Contact journalist Bailey Loosemore at [email protected], 502-582-4646 or on Twitter @bloosemore.

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