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Western Ky. residents affected by tornadoes eligible for disaster unemployment assistance

Locals and volunteers continue sorting through piles of rubble and debris after a tornado devastated parts of Dawson Springs, Ky.
Locals and volunteers continue sorting through piles of rubble and debris after a tornado devastated parts of Dawson Springs, Ky.

Individuals who lost work due to the tornadoes and aren't typically eligible for unemployment insurance may now qualify for support from a federal disaster unemployment fund, Gov. Andy Beshear announced Saturday.

The assistance is for those who became unemployed and can't traditionally get unemployment, like farmers, or for those whose work as a self-employed person was stopped directly due to the tornadoes. The funding is only available after applying for and being denied traditional unemployment benefits, Beshear said.

Applicants will need a copy of their 2020 income tax return, a photo ID and a utility bill showing the person's mailing address. Beshear acknowledged these may be difficult documents for someone affected by the tornadoes to produce, but said staff will be available in person to help applicants however they can.

From Monday through Wednesday, the state will have staff in-person for application help from 8 a.m.-5 p.m. at the following locations:

  • 801 Chestnut St., Bowling Green, KY 42101
  • 233 Ring Road, Elizabethtown, KY 42701
  • 1220 Eagles Way, Mayfield, KY 42066
  • 3108 Fairview Drive, Owensboro, KY 42303
  • 56 Federal St., Madisonville, KY 42431

You can also apply online at kcc.ky.gov or call 800-875-0442.

While there's still a backlog for the state's unemployment insurance, Beshear said that isn't going to impact those seeking help after the tornadoes.

"We're being able to set this up with lessons learned," Beshear said. "We're going to work very closely and in person to make sure that we can...process the unemployment claims for these folks that will have to be denied to get this next process."

Updates to death toll, missing

Beshear said the number of Kentuckians lost to the tornadoes is now 78, although other state officials are still reporting 75. There are three people who may have been double-counted in another county, Beshear said, but he's using the larger number until the issue is resolved.

"It's a huge number of Kentuckians to lose," Beshear said. "We mourn with their families."

The state will be providing $10,000 to cover the cost of funerals for all those who died in the tornadoes. Beshear said state officials are sending the money automatically, and family members don't have to apply.

No one is still missing, Beshear said.

Mayfield is still entirely without power, and another 3,800 homes are still without power. National Guardsmen have also been deployed in Dawson Springs, in part to prevent theft from tornado victims.

“We've got people out there who would steal things from people at their lowest moment,” he said.

Kate Howard is the managing editor of the Kentucky Center for Investigative Reporting.

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