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Local officials extending helping hand

Magoffin Co. Judge/Executive Matt Wireman

SALYERSVILLE – While Magoffin Countians are no strangers to the aftermath of a tornado, local officials are planning ways to help the communities hit by a string of tornadoes that hit Western Kentucky Friday night, with a believed seven tornadoes touching down in the state and the strongest suspected to be somewhere between an EF3 and EF5.

Having received aid from all across the country when Magoffin was hit by an EF3 tornado in 2012, local officials have said they want to reciprocate the gesture to those hit by the December 10 tornadoes. Unlike Magoffin in 2012, there have been at least 74 fatalities confirmed in Kentucky from the storms, with more than that still missing and more injuries reported.

On Tuesday, Magoffin County Judge/Executive Matt Wireman told Mortimer Media Group he and the city are working with the state to coordinate donations for the area.

“This morning we had a meeting with county judges across the state – I think there were over 145 participants – and we have heard from eight of the county judges or their representatives about what their immediate needs are and what the status of what their people were of their counties and the fatality levels and the displaced residents,” Wireman said. “There was some good news, with the shelters that were full on the first day, but as of this morning just had minimal numbers, with most of their displaced people found a place to stay – friends, family or somewhere in an outlying region. They also said as far as supplies, basic supplies, water, cleaning supplies, and those kinds of things they had a good source for about a week. What their concern was that they would run out in about a week, and that’s why they’re asking the county judges and everyone on the call not to send anything down this week because their distribution points are full. That region down there, you’re talking about suburbs of Memphis all the way to Nashville and up into Indiana and down into Louisville, they had a lot of things coming, but their concern is the replenishing of those things. I think that’s what we’ll focus on here. Our focus will be to gather the supplies, based on the updated list I get from the county judge’s association, and we will focus on those things and we’ll try to make a trip down next week with the items we collect to help replenish their supplies.”

Wireman said the immediate way people can help is to send money, noting that even people not directly hit by the tornadoes are without power and water, running generators and need money to run those generators.

Wireman said they will start collecting donations for the tornado victims at the Salyersville Fire Department, next to the post office on Maple Street. For monetary donations, he said people can make checks out to the Magoffin County Fiscal Court or donate gift cards.

“Please only bring new and/or unopened supply items,” Wireman reminded the public. “More to follow as we continue to get guidance and instructions from the state and officials in the region.”

Wireman also expressed how Friday night and Saturday morning brought back memories of 2012, but with a much wider scope.

“When it happened, as it was going on we were worried about what was going to happen here,” Wireman said. “I was up at the house watching the weather all night myself, seeing all the damage and the reports, but I think as most Magoffin Countians were in 2012, when you came down and you saw the damage to our town and the lives that were affected, it was heartbreaking. But with this, it’s unimaginable the loss of life that those communities have suffered. The county judges, you could tell they were weary, but they were also heartbroken, and it breaks my heart to hear it, too. Sitting in this position and knowing that you’re a servant to the people and their people, their friends, families and neighbors, they’ve lost a lot of them. We’ve heard a lot about Mayfield and Dawson Springs, but somehow I missed in the news Muhlenberg County and the county judge down there. That’s a small county and they’ve lost over 10 or 11 and had two tornadoes touch down there. That whole region down there, it’s not just one big event, it was a big track of multiple tornadoes destroying lives.”

Wireman also noted that he’s talked to Salyersville Mayor James “Pete” Shepherd, who was in office when the tornado hit, that the donated supplies started dwindling after three weeks, so Magoffin County and Salyersville will be focusing on donations and needs past the initial push for donations.

Also important to note, Magoffin County Schools are participating in the “Stuff the Bus” drive, with each district collecting donations for the tornado victims, with Magoffin mostly focusing on cleaning supplies.

The school district posted this on social media on Saturday following the storms:

“As many of you know, parts of Western and Central Kentucky were devastated with tornado damage and severe weather last night.

“The citizens of Magoffin County know too well the effects of this type of loss. In 2012, our community benefited from the help of others as we dealt with the aftermath of the tornado.

“Magoffin County Schools will be joining with other districts in our region to “Pack a Bus” with various supplies.

“Magoffin County Schools has been designated to collect cleaning supplies.

“Donations of these items will be taken at the Magoffin County Board of Education from December 13 – 17 and transported on Monday, December 20.

“Our thoughts and prayers are with our fellow Kentuckians today and in the weeks to come.”

More information about the local drives for those affected by these tornadoes will be released as the information becomes available.

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