What is in this article?:
- Kentucky Extension helping farmers overcome tornadoes
- Generous donations
• University of Kentucky Cooperative Extension agents from all over northern and eastern Kentucky are responding to farmers’ needs, even though some of them didn’t even have their own offices to work from, thanks to the twisters.
• The storms wiped away barns, fencing and feed.
AFTER 14 confirmed tornadoes, people all across Kentucky were left to clean up and deal with the aftermath which included dozens of fatalities and injuries.
Through generous donations of small businesses, individuals and the Kentucky Cattlemen’s Association, volunteers have been able to distribute supplies equating to about one-quarter mile of four-strand barbed wire, posts and gates to each of nearly 40 farmers.
“We’ll have more supplies coming in for several weeks,” Wilson said. “So we’ve been telling folks if they don’t get what they need the first round, they will in a future distribution. We’ve had to base it all on need and the extent of damage.”
In the north, Michael Mann, Dan Allen and Don Sorrell, agricultural and natural resources Extension agents in Pendleton, Kenton and Campbell counties respectively, worked quickly after the EF-4 tornado cut a 10-mile swath of damage through their areas.
Mann said they’ve been working with local Emergency Management officials and the Farm Service Agency to assess how many farmers were affected and how much damage was done.
“We are also helping coordinate getting groups of volunteers from other counties access to help clean up debris and build fences,” he said. “We’ll help collect and distribute the donations to farm families.”
“I am working with the Emergency Management team of Kenton County and will be coordinating pasture and field sweep teams to collect small debris that could harm or even kill livestock if they pick it up while grazing,” Allen said. “Items like small pieces of metal, nails and even fiberglass insulation all can be harmful if ingested.”
Allen said he was grateful to have Extension publications available about debris removal and pasture cleanup. They distributed them to volunteers who were in the fields.
In Laurel County, a shorter, but powerful EF-2 tornado touched down and destroyed everything in its path for more than six miles. Extension professionals there began working to feed displaced citizens and volunteers.
“It’s been crazy, but we are beginning to get it all under control,” said Glenn Williams, agricultural and natural resources Extension agent in Laurel County. “A lot of farmers didn’t realize their fences were not covered under their insurance policies, so there is a large need for fencing.”
Williams said they had been working hard with local agencies, the cattlemen’s association and the Agricultural Development Board to raise funds for fencing supplies to meet farmers’ needs.
“We’ve had cooperation from local farm and feed stores as well,” he said. “Farmers will get vouchers to use at these stores to purchase fencing supplies. The stores are also going to give them an across-the-board discount of 5 percent on purchases, and up that to 15 to 20 percent off on fencing supplies.”
Williams admits this is the first time they’ve had to respond to something so destructive and devastating and that there were some communications glitches.
“We’ve realized that no matter how well you think you are prepared for a disaster, there’s always going to be some glitches,” he said. “But overall we have been so amazed at the response from Kentuckians wanting to work and help… it’s great to see that.”
The UK College of Agriculture has posted a disaster resources page. The page lists needs, resources and updates by county or region, with contact information and donation site addresses.