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Bank, credit union help homeowners affected by tornado

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Mortgage assistance provided through grant

By Amber Coulter

Two Hodgenville families who lost their houses to a Feb. 29 tornado have received grants toward mortgages on their rebuilt homes.

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Federal Home Loan Bank of Cincinnati’s board of directors decided to make $5 million in grants of up to $20,000 toward the purchase, construction or repair of a home to disaster victims in counties designated as disaster areas by federal or state agencies.

Two grants were given to Fort Knox Federal Credit Union to help the Cissell and Mayfield families in Hodgenville.

Michael Bateman, vice president of marketing for the credit union, and John Byczkowski, assistant vice president of communications for the bank, said their organizations are glad to be able to help families affected by the disaster.

Amanda and Michael Cissell were newlyweds a couple weeks away from moving into the home they had begun building about eight months earlier when the tornado struck.

The couple was with family next door to the home they were building on Stiles Ford Road when they heard a report about a tornado nearby.

Michael Cissell decided to move his car under the family’s covered garage to protect it from hail that was predicted.

He saw a swirl of debris in the air as he was about to walk out the door and told everyone to get to the basement as the tornado approached.

Contractors in the couple’s house raced for the basement as windows burst. The roof was gone and debris was everywhere when they emerged.

Having a home so close to completion declared a total loss by the insurance company was like watching a house of cards tumble, Michael Cissell said.

“You go through that, and your dream turns into a nightmare,” he said.

The hardest part of the ordeal was waiting to see what would happen and if insurance money would be forthcoming, Michael Cissell said.

He was pleasantly surprised the insurance company was helpful and the couple was able to move into the rebuilt house a month ago.

That was when the Cissells thanked financial organization employees who helped get them the grant that was applied to their mortgage during a Wednesday celebration and ribbon cutting.

They didn’t expect to be approved after not getting money from the Federal Emergency Management Agency, so they were shocked to hear they were one of the local families being helped, Michael Cissell said.

“It’s been ups and downs,” he said.

Jennifer and Paul Mayfield had talked about the changes they would make to their house on Plumpurdy Drive if they ever got the chance.

They never expected the sunroom, bedroom addition and fireplace now part of their home would be part of a remodel made necessary by a tornado.

Jennifer Mayfield ran to the closet with her cats when she saw what looked like pink snow falling outside that turned out to be insulation heralding the coming tornado.

She was shocked to come out to her pastor calling her name and see no roof over much of the house.

She still finds insulation in the house sometimes after community members helped with cleanup and insurance money helped rebuild the house better than before.

Jennifer Mayfield said she and her husband were surprised to find out they qualified for the $20,000 grant that has lowered their mortgage payment.

“It’s been a blessing, it really has,” she said. “Through the whole process, you can see God’s hand everywhere.”

Amber Coulter can be reached at (270) 505-1746 or acoulter@thenewsenterprise.com.