‘I can’t turn my back on the community’: Mayfield dentist determined to rebuild after tornado

FOX Weather teams up with One Tree Planted on Arbor Day to replant trees at a Mayfield park

MAYFIELD, Ky. – The past few months have been tough for Mayfield after a devastating tornado tore through the town.

The EF-4 twister carved a mile-wide path through the western Kentucky town on Dec. 10, 2021. Its 190 mph winds left the community unrecognizable to some who have lived there for years. At least 80 deaths in Kentucky were blamed on the storm system that spawned the Mayfield tornado.

"Some days, not many days, but some days, I pull into the parking lot of City Hall – nobody’s there now – and I’ll have about a 2-minute good cry," said Mayfield Mayor Kathy Steward O’Nan.

According to O’Nan, more than 60 businesses in the town were damaged or destroyed.

Dr. Wes Mills’ dental practice of 22 years was among those businesses that were leveled by the cyclone.

"It’s pushed my patience pretty good," Mills said. "It’s pretty tough."

In the immediate aftermath of the twister, Mills said he was not sure if he was going to be able to rebuild his 22-year-old practice. Now, he’s ready to lay the foundation for a new office.

"You know, we got knocked down from COVID and we came back, and then all of a sudden we got wiped out (by) the tornado, and like, I say, I can’t turn my back on the community like this," Mills said.


O’Nan said she thinks most of the businesses are planning to stay, but there is a long road to recovery ahead for the town of about 10,000.

"We’ve talked to other towns who have rebuilt like this, and they all give us a 10-year line, and still, then, not perfect, but better," O’Nan said.

The mayor said several charitable groups have been in Mayfield since the twister to help with recovery, and some have pledged to stay for several years.


Mills said he is still unsure if staying is the smart thing to do.

"But it’s the right move, and we’ll see in time," Mills said.

FOX Weather marked Arbor Day on Friday in Mayfield by teaming up with One Tree Planted to replant several trees at Harman Park located on the edge of the tornado’s path.