Churches help flood victims in Eastern Kentucky

PIKEVILLE, Ky. (AP) - Churches and charities have stepped in to
assist Kentucky residents waiting on federal assistance after major
flooding earlier this month.
The mud is mostly cleaned up and water service is back on in
most places, but residents in several eastern Kentucky counties are
waiting on the Federal Emergency Management Agency to declare a
state of emergency. Gov. Steve Beshear made his request May 13.
The Lexington Herald-Leader reported that churches, local
governments and charitable agencies like the Christian Appalachian
Project are trying to fill the gaps until long-term recovery
"We've got people who are absolutely hurting and in pain, and
they need a quick response," Pike County Judge-Executive Wayne T.
Rutherford said.
The Red Cross estimated that 307 homes were destroyed and
another 593 suffered major damage in seven counties when torrents
of rain starting falling May 8.
While FEMA has already approved the federal disaster declaration
in West Virginia, which was hit by the same storms and felt the
impact from the same flooded waterways, residents in Kentucky are
still waiting.
A FEMA spokeswoman said the state's aid application has been
received and federal officials hope to make a decision this week.
Hardy United Methodist Church in Pike County became a hub for
aid distribution in some remote areas, said Alice Tackett, the wife
of the church pastor.
While men helped neighbors dig mud and move belongings, the
women cooked and delivered meals and put the boxes on all terrain
vehicles to bypass washed-out roads.
"That's what the church is supposed to do. That's what we're
called to do," Tackett said.
But these organizations have to wait on the federal government
to determine where funds will be going and where gaps need to be
"We're just now beginning to talk about any kind of long-term
recovery and what that will look like," said the Rev. Albert
Hughes, disaster response coordinator for the United Methodist
Church Prestonsburg district.
Until now, it's been "just trying to help people to be safe,
sanitary and secure," he said.
Red Cross finished its initial damage assessment and is
expecting to stay for at least another week working with individual
clients, said Winn Stephens, the Red Cross's Bluegrass Chapter
development director.
Hughes said that people in eastern Kentucky come together and
help each other like nowhere else, and that efforts by churches and
charities make him proud.
"We're not going to wait on others to come in and do for us
what we could do for ourselves," Hughes said.

(Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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