Officials are still assessing the damage from recent flooding that has damaged much of southeastern Kentucky, and it is unknown whether the state will meet the threshold for a federal disaster declaration.
“I think we are certainly going to reach the threshold for Whitley County,” said Whitley County Judge-Executive Pat White Jr.
“Everything has not been turned in for all the counties. The bigger question will be whether we will be able to meet the statewide threshold, which I think is a little over $6 million.”
A total of 12 counties have received a state emergency declaration from Gov. Andy Beshear, including: Bell, Clay, Harlan, Hickman, Knox, Lawrence, Leslie, Letcher, McCreary, Metcalfe, Perry and Whitley. Those counties will be eligible for up to $50,000 each to cover the cost of collecting, transporting and disposing of municipal solid waste resulting from the flood event.
Beshear and local leaders provided an update on the emergency management and relief response to flooding events in Southeastern Kentucky during a Thursday briefing at the London Joint Readiness Center.
Joined by Senate President Robert Stivers, of Manchester; Senator Johnny Ray Turner, of Prestonsburg; Rep. Adam Bowling, of Middlesboro; Michael Dossett, director of the Kentucky Division of Emergency Management (KYEM), Beshear hosted a briefing for local county judge executives and emergency management professionals.
They also assessed impacted areas by helicopter. The briefing, held in accordance with state emergency management guidelines, aimed to inform local officials on how best to access and respond to recent flooding events, for which Beshear issued a state of emergency Feb. 7.
“There is nothing more serious than how we show up for, respond to and address the health and safety of our communities, especially in a time of need,” Beshear said. “We are in constant contact and coordinating the response with local, state and federal emergency management officials to protect our people in Southeastern Kentucky.”
To date, KYEM has received 10 county and seven-city state of emergency declarations. County declarations are: Bell, Clay, Harlan, Knox, Lawrence, Leslie, Letcher, McCreary, Perry and Whitley. City declarations are: Whitesburg, Williamsburg, Pineville, Middlesboro, Hazard, Jenkins and Hyden.
White encouraged local residents with any flood damage to report it to his office at 549-6000 so it can be added to official flood damage estimates before those numbers are sent to Frankfort and then onto Washington, D.C.
White noted that fortunately the bulk of the flooding damage is over.
“It is more a matter of cleaning up. I think it is really impressive how the community has pulled together and tried to help with those cleanups. I think it is something to be really proud of,” White said. “I think you saw that in the response from the first responders as well as the response by the community trying to help their neighbors get cleaned up from this.”