BOWLING GREEN, Ky. (WDRB) -- First lady Jill Biden toured parts of western Kentucky on Friday, offering words of hope to residents a month after the devastating tornadoes.
She spent the day in Bowling Green with Erik Hooks, deputy administrator of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, to see the damage and recovery efforts.
Gov. Andy Beshear and his wife, Britainy, also joined Biden and Hooks to tour a neighborhood hit by the tornado, where she stopped and talked to families cleaning up from the storms.
In the Creekwood neighborhood, every house showed a different picture: one with a roof torn off, another seen split in half and another one at its bare bones. The devastation remains five weeks after the National Weather Service said an EF3 tornado ripped through Bowling Green with wind speeds up to 150 miles per hour.
Neighbors said Friday that it's been incredibly traumatic, even a month later. Many are still in temporary housing.
"I know that my son is down. 'I wanna go home momma, I wanna go home.' And it's like, 'We can't. We can't go home right now,'" Samantha McCormick told WDRB News. "And he's not the only kid that feels that way. Everyone is just mopey. The feeling right now is mopey."
Samantha McCormick says the aftermath has been a traumatic experience like she never expected. She lived in one of the left apartments behind us. Now, her family is staying in a hotel. Remember we’re a month out from the tornadoes. @WDRBNews pic.twitter.com/dZwoAqlspk— Monica Harkins WDRB (@MonicaHarkinstv) January 14, 2022
The group also visited Bowling Green's volunteer center at the old Sear's building, which houses a FEMA State Disaster Recovery Center where the first lady helped sort through and hang some donated clothing and met with families shopping through the items available.
"There is grief all around us for the destruction of the homes and the hometowns, for every life lost," Biden said. "It will take time to make this beautiful place whole again. But what we've seen, what we've all seen today, is there is faith here, too. And there is so much strength and there is so much hope."
The tour ended at the FEMA center, where tornado victims can get help with federal assistance. The first lady is encouraging people who need help to come and get it.
"There is hope and there is help," she said. "So if you are struggling, come to a disaster recovery center. There are centers all around the state. So let your friends and your families know that help is available."
People in more than 20 Kentucky counties can now get help from FEMA, which is still taking applications from victims for tornado relief for about another month. For help and links to submit applications, click here for the state's tornado recovery resource website.
President Joe Biden visited the towns of Mayfield and Dawson Springs just days after the tornadoes hit western Kentucky.
The first lady originally planned to visit Kentucky earlier this month, but she had to cancel because of a winter storm.
Kentucky, we stand with you every day that you rebuild. Joe and I are with you and your families. Thank you @GovAndyBeshear, @BritainyBeshear, @RepGuthrie and @FEMA for joining me. Bowling Green, you’re in my heart. pic.twitter.com/81vfKXwqsT— Jill Biden (@FLOTUS) January 15, 2022
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