Death toll rises to 40; Knott, Letcher counties first to request, receive $1.2 million Eastern Kentucky SAFE funds
FRANKFORT, Ky. (Sept. 13, 2022) – Today, Gov. Andy Beshear shared that the death toll from July’s historic flooding has now risen to 40 Kentuckians lost.
“Sadly, this individual was lost during clean-up efforts in Pike County,” Gov. Beshear said. “Each of these individuals is a child of God, and we mourn with all of their loved ones and all of Eastern Kentucky.”
Gov. Beshear also announced the positive news that Knott and Letcher counties are the first to submit requests for and receive financial assistance from the Eastern Kentucky State Aid Funding for Emergencies (EKSAFE) Fund. These funds will be used to help support recovery efforts following the massive flooding that began July 26, devastating areas of Eastern Kentucky.
Together the two counties will receive more than $1.28 million in funding, which includes $531,000 to the Knott County Fiscal Court to relieve strained fiscal liquidity and $531,000 to the Letcher County Fiscal Court to ease strained fiscal liquidity and $220,000 to engage a floodplain coordinator.
“I am proud to announce that Knott and Letcher counties are the first to request and receive financial assistance from the Eastern Kentucky State Aid Funding for Emergencies funds,” Gov. Beshear said. “A total of $1.2 million is going to these communities for flood relief, and those same communities are going to be able to apply for additional funding as we move forward.”
The Governor said more applications are on the way and that the administration is eager to continue distributing these dollars to our Eastern Kentucky communities.
“To our Eastern Kentucky families, we are with you today, tomorrow and in the months and years ahead,” Gov. Beshear said. “We love you and we will get through this, and we will get through it together.”
Gov. Beshear recommended the appropriation of state funding to support the region’s recovery efforts and called the General Assembly into a special legislative session Aug. 24. Working together, House Bill 1 was quickly passed and signed into law by the Governor on Aug. 26.
“This special session was not partisan or bipartisan – it was nonpartisan,” Gov. Beshear said. “When we put politics aside and work together to support our people is when we truly move Kentucky forward.”
Under the provisions of HB 1, more than $212.7 million was appropriated to the Kentucky Division of Emergency Management (KYEM) for the EKSAFE fund. Eligible cities, counties, public and nonprofit utilities and school districts can apply for much-needed financial support from the fund as they clean up and rebuild their communities.
The $212.7 million Eastern Kentucky relief plan is much like the Western Kentucky SAFE Fund aid provided to help communities rebuild following the mid-December 2021 tornadoes. As of last week, the Western Kentucky SAFE Fund had distributed more than $71.3 million to provide victims shelter in travel trailers, support impacted schools and their students and provide local rebuilding assistance.
While today’s award reflects a small portion of the total EKSAFE funds available to support recovery efforts, KYEM officials expect to receive many additional applications for EKSAFE funding soon. Emergency management officials continue to meet with county officials in areas affected by the late July floods as they prepare to submit applications to receive EKSAFE funds. KYEM is also guiding counties to ensure the projects they submit meet the eligibility requirements to receive financial support from the EKSAFE fund.
“Emergency management is committed to ensuring that the EKSAFE funds are properly distributed to provide applicants the most benefit in conjunction with other forms of flood relief assistance,” KYEM Director Jeremy Slinker said. “We are grateful for the opportunity to provide additional aid to those impacted by the storms to strengthen their recovery efforts.”
On Tuesday, the Governor also sent a letter to President Joe Biden seeking an additional modification to the disaster declaration to reflect a 90% federal cost share period once the 100% coverage period concludes. On Aug. 6, the President issued a letter approving cost-sharing arrangement for the flooding event to increase from 75% to 100% for a 30-day period within the first 120 days of the declaration. The Governor said the commonwealth is grateful for the assistance but given the flooding impact to these communities, more cost-sharing is needed to help local and state governments recover.