FRANKFORT, Ky. (September 8, 2014) – After a back-to-back wallop of severe thunderstorms in eastern Kentucky last month, Kentucky Emergency Management officials said the damages are severe enough to warrant investigation by federal agencies to determine possible assistance to homeowners and businesses.
Beginning Aug. 18, torrential rains resulted in flash flooding and mudslides in Knott, Pike, Floyd, and Johnson counties. The storms caused power outages, road closures, and widespread damage to businesses, public infrastructure and private property.
On Aug. 22, an intense thunderstorm hovered over those eastern Kentucky counties for more than an hour, turning hollows into rivers and streets into canals. The storm dumped four inches of rain in an hour, which overwhelmed drainage systems and left much of the counties covered in water, mud, and debris.
Gov. Steve Beshear directed Kentucky Emergency Management director Mike Dossett to request evaluations from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the Small Business Administration (SBA) in order to consider issuing direct assistance or low-interest loans to affected citizens in Knott, Pike, Floyd and Johnson counties. Those letters were submitted today.
“Our local emergency responders have been on the ground since the storms moved out, helping compile damage lists and assisting homeowners and businesses in tallying their losses,” said Gov. Beshear. “It’s clear from our review that the amount of flood damage exceeds the threshold required for federal assistance. We expect a swift response from our federal partners now that they know the estimated damages in these areas.”
The federal government has changed the way it evaluates areas after a natural disaster – the initial damage assessment falls to the local and state governments. In years past, FEMA assessment teams were often in affected areas within days of a disaster, but under the new practice, those teams may not visit disaster areas until weeks after an event.
“Our Kentucky Emergency Management team has been working alongside local responders in these affected counties since the storms hit last month, so we have a good understanding of where the heaviest damages occurred,” said Dossett. “We’re confident that FEMA and SBA will agree that these areas qualify for some relief to help citizens repair their homes and businesses.”
A letter to the Region IV FEMA office requests a Joint Preliminary Damage Assessment for federal recovery funds for the four affected counties. If approved, assistance could be available to local governments for repairing infrastructure like roads and bridges. Federal assistance for individuals may include grants for temporary housing and home repairs, low-cost loans to cover uninsured property losses, and other programs to help individuals and business owners recover from the effects of the storms.
In the letter to the area director of the SBA, Dossett asked for a formal declaration for Floyd County and adjacent counties in order to make low-interest loans available to homeowners and businesses.
Emergency management officials urge those who have suffered property damage to photograph the damage, save any repair receipts and report damages to their local county emergency director and insurance provider.