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Lawrence directs assistance to Kentucky tornado victims

By Greg Ellison

(Dec. 23, 2021) In addition to sending utility crews south next month to help  parts of west Kentucky recover after a series of tornadoes leveled parts of the state on Dec. 10, Berlin Electric Utility Director Tim Lawrence is organizing donations for displaced residents there.

“I’m looking as far as both the Town of Berlin proving help to restore power, but also in my private life I’m looking to provide some kind of relief to people down there to help them,” he said. “They’re in bad need right now and they’ve got nothing.”

The devastating string of powerful storms that pummeled Kentucky earlier this month wreaked havoc in a number of towns, including Mayfield, Benton, Bremen and Dawson Springs.

To this point 58 fatalities have been confirmed as clean-up work progresses.

In his free time, Lawrence volunteers with the Bishopville-based Bikers Without Borders Foundation.

“We do a lot of charity work in the area,” he said. “I was just elected president on Sunday.”

In hopes of providing emergency relief items for Kentucky disaster victims,  Lawrence contacted American Municipal Power officials to locate a regional contact.

In short order, Lawrence was directed to the Kentucky Chamber Foundation website.

“There’s a place where you can donate materials to tornado victims down there,” he said. “They sent me information on where things could be sent to a shelter.”

Lawrence said Mayfield, Kentucky was the hardest hit area.

“Their entire electrical system is on the ground,” he said. “It pretty much wiped out 85 percent of the buildings, doctors’ offices and everything.”

With roughly 10,000 electric customers, Mayfield more than triples the approximately 3,000 utility users in Berlin.

“They basically have to re-engineer the entire system and then rebuild,” he said.

Turnaround time to complete the task remains difficult to ascertain.

“You throw enough resources at it, you may get it knocked out in a couple of months,” he said.

Supply chain issues are adding an additional layer of difficulty.

“The problem right now is materials,” he said. “Lead time on materials right now has increased 30 to 40 percent.”

To make matters worse, Lawrence said material costs have also charted upwards.

“There’s a big issue with where are they getting these materials from,” he said. “They’re already sending out emails to other municipalities and resources to see who can provide what materials because they can’t get them.”

For now, manpower is the one resource in abundance.

“Right now they definitely have enough help down there,” he said.

After the New Year, Kentucky officials are anticipating requesting additional crews.

“That’s when they’re going to start looking at lining up different crews to rotate out for the ones that are already there,” he said.

To learn more about lending aid for disaster victims in Kentucky visit