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'It's going to take years' | Dawson Springs hoping President Biden's address boosts awareness

Members of the Dawson Springs community are working to rebuild after their town was devastated by tornadoes over the weekend.

DAWSON SPRINGS, Ky. — Members of the Dawson Springs community are still reeling days after tornadoes devastated the town of 2,600 over the weekend. Families are working to salvage what they can from flattened homes, and neighbors are mourning the losses of those who didn't survive.

"It's going to take years to get this town back in the shape it was in," said Harvey Martin, whose home on Walnut Street was spared -- just blocks away from where the storm hit hardest.

President Joe Biden visited both Dawson Springs and Mayfield on Wednesday to survey the damage with Gov. Andy Beshear. During his visit, the president announced that the federal government would cover 100 percent of the emergency service costs for 30 days, up from 75 percent.

Right as he arrived, residents revealed a mix of feelings about the president's visit.

"Never thought the president would come to a town this small," fellow neighbor Zach Hopper said. “Hopefully he will bring the attention our town needs to get some funding, and be able to build back.”

Credit: Alyssa Newton - WHAS11

Many were appreciative he came, hoping the national attention would lead to additional funding to help the community rebuild.

Jennifer Burden walked through the wreckage of her daughter's home, grateful for her family's safety when so many others lost their lives. She said she was encouraged by the president's visit.

"I know a lot of people have nothing and they're not going to have resources to rebuild or do anything else," she said. "I hope it brings attention to that."

However, others were concerned the pomp and circumstance of the event may have halted vital clean-up efforts as many areas were blocked off to prepare for the president's arrival.

"We've been out delivering generators to people, and we're stuck here for now," said Jordan Dalton. "It's kind of upsetting." He added that he respected the office of the president and appreciated Biden's concern for Kentucky.

Credit: Alyssa Newton - WHAS11

Pastor Jeff Winfrey at Primitive Baptist Church said his congregation gathered for worship on Sunday morning, even after the church building was decimated by the storms.

"We didn't let it stop us," he said.

Winfrey said the issue is simple: the people of Dawson Springs need help. Whether that help comes from the president, family or complete strangers - the community has its arms wide open.

"It’s going to be rough, but we’ll get through it," Hopper said.

If you'd like to donate to the communities affected by these storms, click here.

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