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Bowling Green business, destroyed by deadly 2021 tornadoes, reopens with the help of Kentucky agencies

Mary Beth Wilson is joined by U.S. Senator Rand Paul at the reopening of the mixed-use property
Jacob Martin
WKU Public Radio
Maribeth Wilson is joined by U.S. Senator Rand Paul at the reopening of the mixed-use property

A Bowling Green business is reopening after being closed since 2021 due to the deadly tornadoes in southern and western Kentucky. The property at 1131 Magnolia Avenue will be used as a mix-use commercial and residential space according to owner, Maribeth Wilson. The multi-level building was originally slated to be a bookstore before the deadly tornadoes destroyed the building. It took Wilson over a year and half to completely renovate the property. Funding for the project came from the Kentucky Small Business Administration and Bowling Green City Commission.

According to Wilson, if it had not been for the Bowling Green City Commission she would not have been able to navigate the state requirements for disaster assistance funding.

“We had a lot of people that were beneficial in helping us,” Wilson said. “Dana Beasley Brown helped us with the SBA. I mean if it wasn't for her I’m not sure what we would have done.”

U.S. Senator Rand Paul attended the reopening of the business. In August, the senator cosponsored a bill that helps simplify the application process for citizens who are seeking federal disaster relief. It requires FEMA to establish a universal application across all government agencies that assist disaster victims. The bill passed the U.S. Senate and is awaiting House action.

The Republican from Bowling Green said he believes the bipartisan bill will be passed shortly.

“Basically what we were hearing from people when they were filling out the paperwork was they have to fill out the FEMA paperwork and then they have to fill out the small business paperwork,” Paul said. “The duplication of the effort, particularly for some elderly, where the forms were onerous, became a real problem. The government just needs to work better frankly, so anything we can do to get government to work better, we’ve got to try. I think ultimately we’ll get it passed.”

The Bowling Green City Commission has been focused on helping put families back in homes and help businesses reopen following the tornadoes. City Commissioner Dana Beasley Brown said with the progress that has been made there is still work that needs to be done.

“I am hoping two years after the storm we will get everyone back in but I think that's still too long,” Brown said. “I feel like if we, a year later, can’t say that everyone is back to where they were and in a better place and thriving then we have work to do as a community and as a federal government then we’ve got to find a way to help our community and families build back faster and remove whatever barriers of red tape that we can.”

Jacob Martin is a Reporter at WKU Public Radio. He joined the newsroom from Kansas City, where he covered the city’s underserved communities and general assignments at NPR member station, KCUR. A Louisville native, he spent seven years living in Brooklyn, New York before moving back to Kentucky. Email him at
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