On March 2, 2012, West Liberty, KY was devastated by an EF3 tornado, with winds up to 165 miles per hour.
On that day, seven lives were lost, and nearly 400 homes and businesses were destroyed. Before the disaster struck, West Liberty was an at-need Appalachian community and that status was far worsened by the destruction from the tornado. Despite help for their recovery efforts from several non-profits, government agencies, and individuals, full recovery was still far in the future.
The Clinton Global Initiative
In January 2013, West Liberty unveiled locally inspired strategies to rebuild the community known as Rebuilding West Liberty, Kentucky. On June 13, Morgan County Judge Tim Conley presented these strategies at the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) America annual meeting.
Rebirth Through Disaster
The driving plan of Rebuilding West Liberty is to not only rebuild, but to turn this disaster into an opportunity to transform West Liberty. They plan on doing this by updating to a twenty-first century standard infrastructure and developing job-producing business opportunities in order to increase the tax base and attract new residents. One of the more pressing matters was a stakeholder inspired strategy that involved rebuilding nearly half of the 300 residential homes lost to the storm. This would involve the construction and development of 150 affordable, energy efficient homes. The three-year project includes a $27 million investment of equity, grants, debt and operating grants to complete the project in West Liberty and scale innovations piloted for other disaster response efforts and affordable housing projects for factory-built homes across the nation.
The partners on the “Commitment to Action” include Fahe Member Frontier Housing, Next Step® Network, NeighborWorks® America, The Ford Foundation, Grassroots Financing LLC, Midwest Clean Energy Enterprise, LLC, the Regional Technology and Innovation Center, Inc., the Morehead State University Innovation & Commercialization Center and the University of Kentucky Center for Applied Energy Research.
We are very happy that Judge Conley was able to present Rebuilding West Liberty at the Clinton Global Initiative. Such coverage not only helps the people of West Liberty but also helps to shine a light on the needs across Appalachia.
Individuals looking to join the coalition supporting Rebuilding West Liberty can sign up at http://therecoveringpolitician.com/westliberty.
You can read the full PDF version of Rebuilding West Liberty, here.