Discourse in recent months largely has centered around coronavirus vaccines and the easing of restrictions, but many Kentucky residents are still dealing with the fallout from February floods in addition to the ongoing pandemic.
It appears that more help may be on the way for affected residents soon, though.
Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear announced Monday that Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is adding staff to the state's support centers in order to reach more residents and business owners who may be eligible for state or federal help due to spring flooding.
Federal disaster aid is available to homeowners, renters and business owners in 31 of Kentucky's counties that were hit hardest by the severe floods. Those with property damage or loss due to flooding that occurred Feb. 27-March 14 may be eligible, Beshear said in an emailed statement.
Support centers are open June 7-8 in Powell, Breathitt and Johnson counties; June 10-12 in Estill, Magoffin and Martin counties; June 16-18 in Clay County; and June 17-19 in Floyd and Lee counties, Beshear's statement said. Appointments are not required. Those attending must wear face masks and bring insurance information, bank account information and routing numbers, descriptions of the damage or losses, and identity and location information.
"We appreciate FEMA continuing to partner with us to help Kentuckians rebuild from devastating flooding," Beshear said. "The additional FEMA staff helping Kentucky families in person will ensure more of our people can get the help they need before the June 23 deadline to apply for federal disaster assistance."
The deadline to apply for low-interest disaster loans from the U.S. Small Business Administration is June 22, while the deadline to apply for federal disaster assistance is June 23.
In addition, disaster food benefits are available to residents in nine counties that were severely affected by flooding.
Individuals who lived or worked in specific counties Feb. 26-March 14 may apply for D-SNAP, or Disaster Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program through June 14. Right now, only those in Breathitt, Clay, Estill, Floyd, Johnson, Lee, Magoffin, Martin and Powell counties are eligible to apply for D-SNAP, but Beshear said the state is asking the U.S. Department of Agriculture to approve assistance for 22 other counties.
Beshear's release added:
Residents of affected counties who would not ordinarily be eligible under SNAP guidelines may qualify temporarily if they lived or worked in these flooded areas of Kentucky. A person may be eligible for D-SNAP benefits if their home or belongings were damaged or destroyed and if they have unreimbursed disaster-related expenses or a loss or reduction of income as a result of the flooding.
To apply for D-SNAP benefits, individuals can call 855-306-8959 or visit a Department for Community Based Services center within one of the nine counties that are eligible for assistance.
Beshear declared a state of emergency on Feb. 28 after rains ravaged the state and sent groundwater gushing into creeks and rivers, ultimately affecting homes, businesses and property. All 120 of Kentucky's counties had issued a flood warning or flood watch at the time.
U.S. President Joe Biden issued a major disaster declaration and federal assistance for Kentucky on April 23, followed by additional assistance on May 28.
More information about federal disaster assistance for Kentucky is available on FEMA's website, and information about Kentucky's flooding disaster response can be seen on the Kentucky Emergency Management website.