Mrs. Costellow’s story: tragedy to miracle

On December 10th, 2022, tragedy struck Bowling Green, Kentucky, as a fateful tornado hit the town and it destroyed many businesses, restaurants, and many homes, including the Costellow’s. The tornado devastated the BG community.

The devastating tornado destroyed Mrs. Jennifer Costellow’s home, a teacher at Bowling Green Junior High School. Costellow teaches 7th grade social studies. The tornado changed her life majorly along with many other lives in Bowling Green. The Costellow family suffered the loss of their home and were displaced for 393 days.

“Luckily, we were not home at the time of the tornado. We were out of town in the Smoky Mountains,” said Costellow.

The aftermath was terrible. Mrs. Costellow’s house was left in pieces, scattered all around the community as the winds blew fiercely. Her cat was inside but was not harmed because it was in the closet.

As their house was being torn down and reconstructed, their 8-person family crammed into a little hotel room. This left Mrs. Costellow completely stressed out.

“We had to completely demolish the house and rebuild,” said Costellow.

From tragedy to a miracle, the Costellow’s home was rebuilt by constructors, and her family were able to move back into their . We can say they were very affected by the tornado. Thankfully, they quickly recovered.

Q & A with Mrs. Costellow

Q: What was the process like for finding a contractor to rebuild your house, and what criteria did you use to make your selection?

A: “Prior to the tornado, we were looking to sell our home and buying a bigger one for my family of 8. So, we went with the company that had built a spec house that we were wanting to buy. We also went with them because they were ready to start building as soon as we were ready.”

Q: How did you cope emotionally with the loss of your home and belongings?

A: “As a family, we have talked about what happened, and we have tried to process the loss that we had. But occasionally, we still have moments that we get upset. We were able to save most of the items from the house. It was mainly furniture and clothing.”

Q: What were the most challenging aspects of rebuilding your home, and how did you overcome these challenges?

A: “The biggest challenge was not having enough insurance money to cover the cost of rebuilding. Our policy did not cover from the moment we purchased the home to the amount the home was worth at the time of the tornado. Therefore, we were short quite a bit for the rebuild. We were denied by FEMA, and only received a little from the American Red Cross. Even the state based the amount they were giving based on what was awarded by FEMA. We were also denied by a local agency from United Way called Bridge the Gap. Therefore, we had to get a loan from the Small Business Administration.”

Q: What steps did you take to make your new house more resistant to future tornadoes or other natural disasters?

A: “We wanted to make sure that our insurance would cover the cost of replacement, and we changed our insurance carrier and agent. We were unable to do anything to our new home in terms of better protection because we did not have the extra money to do that.”

Q: How did the rebuilding process impact your daily life and routines?

A: “We were out of our home for 393 days. We had a lot of items in storage, at my mother-in-law’s, and my father-in-law’s houses. We tried to do the best we could with what we had.”