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PADD celebrates reopening of food bank 2.5 years after devastating tornado 

BY MOLLY HAINES | KCADD Public Information Officer

July 8, 2024

GRAVES COUNTY, Ky.—On Dec. 10, 2021, a violent, long-tracked EF4 tornado ripped through much of the Purchase Area Development District (PADD), leaving widespread destruction in its wake. The structure housing PADD's District Food Bank in Graves County was among the casualties.


Two and a half years and a significant donation later, PADD officials are celebrating a major milestone: the reopening of the food bank, which supplies food to the region's 37 food pantries.


Local office holders and community members joined PADD officials on June 25 for a ribbon-cutting ceremony to celebrate the reopening.


While PADD faced fewer rebuilding challenges than many in the area due to its insurance coverage, a $50,000 donation from Food Lion's Kevin Durkee played a crucial role in aiding the construction and furnishing the new food bank, marking a significant step in the region's recovery and continued commitment to serving the community.


The rebuilding process would not have been possible without the assistance of the Kentucky League of Cities (KLC).


"The property insurance for all of the PADD property is with KLC's Insurance Services," said PADD Executive Director Jeremy Buchanan during the ceremony. "In the days after the tornado, KLC was on the ground with their senior management team meeting in our large conference room with us and several of their other insurees. …Everyone complains about their insurance company, but I have no complaints. Thank you to KLC for standing behind their word."


Additionally, Buchanan recognized U.S. Department of Agriculture representative Willie Taylor of the Atlanta, Georgia, office, who made visits to the area following the tornado, as well as Kentucky Department of Agriculture representative Kevin Peach.


"Mr. Peach made sure we had the needed food to continue to stay operational for our pantries that were able to function," Buchanan added. "Though our pantries struggled with the devastation throughout our region, only one pantry was a complete loss, and we are happy to say that pantry has recently reopened in a different facility and is now serving the community once again."

Buchanan also highlighted the efforts of local officials and organizations in the tornado's immediate aftermath. Carlisle County Judge/Executive Greg Terry and the Carlisle County Road Department used their equipment to remove the collapsed building, allowing access to salvageable commodities. Additionally, the City of Murray's Tom Emery transported salvaged goods to a temporary warehouse in Paducah, rented and equipped by Feeding America, Kentucky's Heartland.


Feeding America's national organization led a nationwide campaign generating over $1.8 million to aid tornado-affected communities. Buchanan acknowledged the vital contributions of Feeding Kentucky, particularly Sarah Vaughan and her team, in ensuring a steady supply of donated food during the recovery period.


Youngblood Excavating and Construction managed the construction of the district food bank, with owner Brad Youngblood and project superintendent Keith Ross playing key roles. Buchanan also thanked the PADD staff, including Geri Lamb, Angela Jewell, James Wilson, and Randy Rambo, for their unwavering dedication.


The ribbon-cutting ceremony featured notable figures such as Pete Galloway, Chairman of the Commodity and Food Bank Task Force, and Benton Mayor Rita Dotson, Chairwoman of the PADD Board of Directors. The event concluded with a BBQ meal prepared for all attendees.

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