LEXINGTON, Ky. – Areas of Kentucky struck by severe storms, flooding and mudslides in July are showing signs of recovery.
To date, more than $14.3 million has been approved in federal disaster assistance grants and loans for homeowners, renters and business owners. Of that figure, more than $6.2 million has gone to meet housing needs in Pike County, the first county designated for Individual Assistance.
Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), Kentucky Division of Emergency Management (KYEM) and U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) officials have been working together since President Obama’s July 23 disaster declaration, which came two days after Governor Beshear requested federal help.
"As cleanup continues and lives are being rebuilt, FEMA, other federal agencies, state and local governments, community and faith-based groups and voluntary agencies will continue to do all that we can to help Kentuckians on their road to recovery," Federal Coordinating Officer Terry L. Quarles said.
FEMA Community Relations specialists have been on the ground, going door to door in Pike County since July 25. They also served Carter, Lewis, Madison, Mason and Rowan neighborhoods when those counties were added to the disaster declaration.
By the time their outreach mission ends today, Community Relations teams will have visited more than 4,500 homes, 1,000 businesses, 170 community-based organizations and 217 faith-based organizations.
“Those numbers are just indicators of the populations served in the counties affected by the disaster,” KYEM Director John W. Heltzel said. "There is a force multiplier effect to consider when a visit to one church can mean 200 people heard the announcement about disaster assistance.”
Kentuckians also listened to the mitigation message of how to rebuild safer and stronger to lessen the impact of the next severe weather event. FEMA Mitigation specialists staffed displays at Lowe’s in Pikeville and Farmers True Value Hardware in Grayson, Carter County for several weeks. They also participated in community meetings and special events, including “Flood Relief for Kids” at the Expo Center in Pikeville and the Carter County Fair.
In all, mitigation specialists talked with more than 8,000 people and distributed nearly 14,000 pieces of literature. Publications available ranged from technical rebuilding manuals to tri-fold handouts with information on how to make a family disaster plan or get a pet ready in an emergency.
“With our mitigation outreach we hope we can better prepare for, and perhaps prevent, similar devastating impacts on Kentuckians in the future,” State Hazard Mitigation Officer Leslie Mahoney said.
Mitigation experts and Community Relations teams also supported state-federal Disaster Recovery Centers located in areas where Kentuckians affected by the disaster could get in-person help with FEMA registration and SBA loan applications. The two remaining centers in Pike County will be open 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday until Sept. 17.
FEMA voluntary agency liaisons have been working with Kentucky counterparts and community groups to establish a Long Term Recovery Committee in Pike County to help with needs not met through federal and state disaster programs. The committee also is continuing to build on a public-private housing collaboration in Pikeville that can serve as a model for other communities devastated by disaster.
Federally funded assistance programs also available to help Kentuckians recover include Disaster Unemployment Assistance, Crisis Counseling and Disaster Legal Services.
Following are highlights of disaster financial assistance to individuals through Thursday, Sept. 9:
• More than $8.5 million in Housing Assistance grants from FEMA’s Individuals and Households Program for temporary housing and home repairs.
• Nearly $806,000 in Other Needs Assistance, a joint state-federal program that helps homeowners and renters replace personal property and to help meet medical, dental, funeral, transportation and other serious disaster-related needs not covered by insurance or other federal, state and charitable aid programs.
• More than $5 million in U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) low-interest disaster loans. These loans are available to homeowners and renters as well as businesses and nonprofit organizations of all sizes.
• More than 2,400 people have registered with FEMA for state and federal disaster assistance.
• Nearly 2,200 damaged homes have been inspected by FEMA.
• 2,850 residents have visited Disaster Recovery Centers operated jointly by FEMA and the Commonwealth of Kentucky, with support from SBA.
The deadline to register for assistance is Sept. 21. The FEMA toll-free registration number is 800-621-FEMA (3362) or TTY 800-462-7585. Registration is also possible online at www.DisasterAssistance.gov.
Additional information, photos and links for this and other open disasters can be found at www.kyem.ky.gov and www.fema.gov.