tornado damage

FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) — Kentucky lawmakers passed tornado-relief legislation Wednesday that will funnel initial aid into stricken communities for schools and residents displaced by the deadly storms last month.

Some legislators spoke of their harrowing experiences huddling with loved ones when the storm struck their neighborhoods. The storms devastated several Kentucky communities, killing 77 people.

The relief measure, put on a fast track by GOP legislative leaders, includes $200 million of assistance requested by Democratic Gov. Andy Beshear. The legislation first cleared the House, followed by Senate passage a short time later to send the bill to the governor.

Lawmakers agreed to pump an initial $45 million into communities, with $15 million for temporary housing and $30 million for schools. More rounds of aid will be allocated later to help meet other recovery needs.

“This is going to be a long recovery process,” Rep. Michael Meredith said. “And these funds that we’re making available today will be used over and over again in our communities to help people get back to some semblance of normal in their lives.”

Lawmakers from stricken counties thanked emergency and utility workers and volunteers for their response after the storms hit.

Rep. Myron Dossett recalled taking shelter with his wife and their granddaughter.

“My wife and I sat our granddaughter between us and both wrapped our arms around her and we prayed,” he said.