UPDATED: Following the devastating tornadoes that swept through Kentucky in December 2021, Kentucky lawmakers are looking to provide financial aid to help communities rebuild.
Rep. Richard Heath, whose hometown of Mayfield was hit extremely hard by the storms, filed House Bill 5, which passed both the House and Senate unanimously on Wednesday. The Senate also filed a version of this legislation as Senate Bill 5, sponsored by Senator Jason Howell, whose district encompasses Mayfield.
The legislation would provide $200 million to support communities in need in western Kentucky, earmarking money to provide educational services and temporary housing.
The resources will be available through the West Kentucky State Aid Funding for Emergencies (SAFE) Fund. That fund will immediately appropriate $45 million, with $15 million allocated for temporary housing and $30 million to assist schools in their recovery and reconstruction.
Schools would receive $30 million in aid to cover costs associated with necessary wrap-around services for children and their families. Another $15 million in available funds would create more stable housing options for families displaced throughout the Commonwealth. The aid assists families purchase recreational vehicles or other options that bring more stable home situations.
“There is not one single person here whose life is the same after the tornado. This is about supporting relief efforts for those who saw the destruction firsthand and lost everything,” said Heath. “As part of our relief efforts, the SAFE fund aims to alleviate some of the difficulties families and students are facing. Our people are strong, they are resilient, and they will find strength in their faith and the values that built this community.”
House Bill 5 now heads to Governor Andy Beshear’s desk.