Weeks after floods, counties are struggling

PIKEVILLE, KY — Some counties are still hovering in a state of emergency, with residents cut off by damaged roads or relying on charity and friends for housing and food, nearly a month after storms, and flooding, one disaster responder told The Lexington Herald Leader, as report in the newspaper's Sunday edition.

Long-term recovery might take 18 months to two years, or longer, considering how long the initial response has taken in some counties, like Brathitt, said the Rev. Al Hughes, a United Methodist disaster team response coordinator from Inez.

Some large federally funded projects from 1997 flooding took 10 years or more to be fully inspected, with payments closed out, said buddy Rogers, spokesman for the Kentucky Division of Emergency Management.

The initial emergency for the flooding that followed the May 9 storms is over, Rogersa said, and there's no way to tell how long the recovery process will take.

"Every disaster has its own lifespan," he said.

Governments and agencies in 22 counties will be applying for assistance to rebuild roads and other infrastructure, and some counties are trying to reassess damage to get individual assistance for residents.

Federal and state officials were in Magoffin County this week, adding up damage, trying to meet the FEMA threshold to provide grants and loans to home and business owners.

"We're certainly praying that we do" get individual assistance, Magoffin Judge-Executive Charles "Doc" Hardin said.

Now that Federal Emergency Management Agency officials are in the area, some non-profits, such as Red Cross, will step back.

The Red Cross national response teams are finishing up with their individual clients, said Bluegrass chapter spokesman Winn Stephens. "Once that happens, we'll be leaving the area."

He said Red Cross spent about $600 to $700 on each family it helped with food, temporary housing and clothes.

As of Thursday evening, FEMA had registered more than 2,100 individuals for assistance, approved $4.5 million in damages, and disbursed about $3 million, said FEMA public information officer Don Jacks.

He said officials were trying to debunk some myths and rumors. Only uninsured and underinsured property is eligible to be repaired or replaced by FEMA, he said, and it doesn't necessarily matter if you live in a flood plain — you still might qualify for aid.

FEMA and state emergency officials are holding meetings to educate county and government officials on the public assistance application process.

Delays in disbursement of previous disaster funds have pinched some counties' budgets, said Pike Judge-Executive Wayne T. Rutherford at a meeting Friday. He guessed that the county was waiting on a large chunk of money from a 2003 flood repair project, reports The Lexington Herald-Leader.

Copyright - The Lexington Herald-Leader

Comments are posted from viewers like you and do not always reflect the views of this station. powered by Disqus