Leaders gather in Louisville to share storm recovery ideas

LOUISVILLE, Miss. (WCBI) – Common tragedies connect leaders from Louisville, Mississippi all the way to Kentucky.

The mayors of Mayfield and Madisonville, Kentucky were in Louisville to discuss and learn more about storm preparations and recovery.

“Failure to plan is a plan to fail,” said Louisville Mayor Will Hill who is paying it forward.

Hill offered insight on how to prepare and recover from natural disasters, like the tornado that touched down in Louisville in 2014, causing severe damage to Winston Medical Center.

“Unfortunately it’s a tragedy that brings us together. Sadness. Loss of life in many cases brings people together. That disaster brought our community together. Those that had a job to do responding whether it was police, fire, EMS, dispatch, or utility crews, everyone was doing their job,” said Hill.

With tornadoes wreaking havoc on the state of Kentucky in December of 2021, Mayfield, Kentucky Mayor Kathy O’Nan knows all about Louisville’s road to recovery.

“We were hit so differently. Our entire downtown which [the tornado] took all of our county buildings and city buildings. So, our government buildings are all gone,” said O’Nan.

Although the community of Madisonville, Kentucky was not directly impacted by tornadoes in 2021, Mayor Kevin Cotton said his town’s responsibility was to help their neighbors.

“We were able to provide support for our neighboring communities and provide fire, police, EMS services, water services, and sewer services, immediately to our neighbors,” said Cotton. “And one of the things we learn from Mayor Hill, other than he’s very passionate about his community, he’s passionate about seeing his community grow, he’s looking into the future, he often spoke about patience, perseverance, and projects.”

Mayfield has a rebuilding plan in the works and has hired an architect.

The town also formed a community group to hear input from residents on what infrastructural changes or improvements should be prioritized.

“There are too many one-way streets in our town. Some streets could be widened. We talked with the Kentucky transportation cabinet and they’re willing to work with that,” said O’Nan.

Another big takeaway was how Louisville was able to receive funding to rebuild.

“Unlike Mayfield, Our city infrastructure wasn’t nearly as impacted as Mayfield, Kentucky but we were able to capitalize and utilize the federal funding opportunities with FEMA, state funding, financing opportunities, and other creative financing ways through new market tax credits whether it was Winston Medical Center. Whether it was plywood rebuild,” said Hill.

The road to recovery may be long but Mayfield won’t be traveling it alone.

“It’s a process to work through but in nine years, we’re going to look like you [Louisville],” said O’Nan.

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