TEAM COVERAGE: More flood-affected counties approved for FEMA assistance
FRANKFORT, Ky. (WKYT) - Gov. Andy Beshear gave another update on the flooding situation in Eastern Kentucky:
Gov. Beshear said on Friday the number of confirmed fatalities in the flooding remains at 37. Kentucky State Police reports there are still two missing persons still being searched for in relation to the flooding.
Thunderstorms on Friday brought a renewed threat of flooding to parts of Kentucky ravaged by high water a week ago.
The National Weather Service issued a flood watch through Saturday morning for nearly the entire state. Due to unsafe travel conditions, Gov. Andy Beshear canceled visits to two flood-ravaged counties Friday.
The White House also announced Friday that President Joe Biden will join Governor Beshear to tour parts of Kentucky that were devastated by recent flooding. The President will be in the area on Monday to meet victims and see recovery efforts in the area.
This will be the second time Biden has toured Kentucky as President, the first time being when tornadoes swept through Western Kentucky.
Friday afternoon, the Governor announced FEMA had approved four more counties for Individual Assistance - Leslie, Magoffin, Martin and Whitley. The other ones that have been approved are Breathitt, Clay, Floyd, Knott, Letcher, Owsley, Perry and Pike counties.
Currently, renters and homeowners in these counties who were affected by the severe storms, flooding and mudslides that began July 26 may apply for individual disaster assistance by visiting one of the in-person mobile registration centers, applying online at DisasterAssistance.gov or by calling 800-621-FEMA (3362).
Two FEMA Mobile Registration Centers have been added in Floyd and Pike counties. There are now a total of nine mobile registration centers.
Hours for all the centers are 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily.
FEMA representatives will be at the centers to help with applications for federal assistance and to provide information about other disaster recovery resources. For additional information visit governor.ky.gov/floodresources.
There are a total of eleven cooling stations across Breathitt, Floyd, Johnson, Letcher, Perry, Pike and Wolfe counties. For current details visit governor.ky.gov/floodresources.
The rain is still coming down in Jackson, and with the threat of more flooding, people in the county are worried. But they are still coming together as a community to help one another.
Breathitt County Judge-Executive Jeffrey Noble says all the counties that were hit hard are coming together to help one another.
He says they have road crews and other people helping clean up the area.
There are hot meals and water set up in different places around the county, along with shelters to help those who were displaced.
He says the efforts that he is seeing are incredible and with the love and support they are getting he thinks they’ll be able to get through this tough time.
However, he says there are still people trapped and missing in the county and they’re doing their best to help those in need. He says seeing his hometown like this is indescribable.
“It’s just heart-wrenching, and, again, this is where I was raised and grown up and I’m not just a judge to the county. I mean, I’m neighbors and friends, personally know them and it’s just tough to see them lose everything and life being lost it’s just terrible,” said Noble.
Noble says, despite the rain, they’ll continue with all their efforts to help those in the county and hopefully start rebuilding.
Volunteers are being asked to head to eastern Kentucky to help out in the flood recovery.
In Knott County, dozens of volunteers heard about the need on Kentucky Sports Radio and showed up in the tiny community of Emmalena to help. Emmalena, like so many others over the past week, has been devastated by flooding, many people losing everything they own.
Volunteer Brandon Kessinger drove three hours from Louisville to help.
“I just showed up to do whatever I can do. So far, have been loading up trucks with water and MREs, cleaning supplies. Doing whatever I can with my two hands,” Kessinger said.
The stories of survival from flood victims in the area are harrowing. We spoke with one family who lived near the Knott/Perry County line who said they climbed into a pickup truck and drove to higher ground.
Some people we spoke with say they have not had any communication with the outside world in a week because they have no electricity, phone service or cell service. People have to bring them the information they need.
Officials say the biggest challenges in Knott County remain the replacement of bridges and culverts and the relocation of people from flooded or destroyed homes.
Judge-Executive Cale Turner says the eastern section of Owsley County was hit the hardest. He says they’ve been working ever since the flood to get the roads back to normal.
“We’ve had a lot of good volunteers, we’ve had contractors come in in the beginning volunteer their equipment and workers,” Turner said.
Turner says about eight homes were flooded, and five of those are likely total losses.
Despite the devastating damage, Turner says they’re among the lucky ones.
“Fortunately, we did not have any drownings in it. We were extremely fortunate in that manner,” said Turner. ”Ya know, material items can be replaced, and that we will. It’ll take some time, we’re not gonna recover tomorrow but we can recover from it and we will”
Above all, Turner is proud of the Owsley County community for the way they’ve come together.
“It’s just been a positive attitude everywhere you look and the community come together like a community should come together and, ya know, we should remember going forward hopefully when this thing is over that everybody keeps the community attitude and looking out for other folks,” Turner said. “And I know this wonderful little community to live in and I’m personally just proud of it.”
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