Friday, August 17, 2001

Disaster status to provide help to flooded areas

By Roger Alford
The Associated Press

        PIKEVILLE, Ky. — President Bush has declared five eastern Kentucky counties disaster areas in the wake of flash floods that caused an estimated $13 million in property damage in the region.

        The declaration will make financial assistance available to local governments, not to individual homeowners.

        The declaration was issued for Floyd, Knott, Letcher, Perry and Pike counties, which were hardest hit by the floods.

        Flash floods hit the state's coal counties Aug. 3 and 4 when 4-5 inches of rain fell on the mountain region. The floods killed two people in Pike County, ripped away roads and bridges, knocked out electric and water service to hundreds of homes, and coated much of the region with a layer of yellow mud.

        Ray Bowman, spokesman for the Kentucky Division of Emergency Management, said the declaration doesn't make federal assistance available to residents who suffered property damage.

        “This is not the absolute end of it,” Mr. Bowman said. “There will be some ongoing damage assessments, and things could change, but I'm not saying that they will.”

        Mr. Bush's declaration means the Federal Emergency Management Agency will pay most the cost of repairing damage to roads and bridges. Typically, FEMA covers 75 percent of the cost of the repairs with local and state governments picking up the remaining 25 percent.

        “The high winds and devastating floodwaters that spread across this five-county area left sizable damage behind, and this federal assistance will help us restore what has been lost,” said U.S. Rep. Harold “Hal” Rogers, R-Somerset, in a statement Thursday afternoon.

        The Division of Emergency Management estimated damage from the floods at $11.5 million to roads and bridges and $1.5 million to homes and private property.

        FEMA Director Joe M. Allbaugh said more counties and additional forms of assistance may be designated later based on further damage assessments.

        Michael E. Bolch, coordinator of FEMA relief efforts, said procedures for requesting assistance will be explained at a series of briefings at locations to be announced later.


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