Saturday, March 23, 2002

Costs of rains, floods could hit at least $26.5M

The Associated Press

        FRANKFORT — A week of rains and flooding probably caused at least $26.5 million damage in central and eastern Kentucky, state disaster officials said Friday.

[photo] The wreckage of a mobile home (foreground) is seen after it was swept from its base and demolished in a community near Harlan.
(Associated Press photo)
| ZOOM |
        That was a rough estimate, Ray Bowman, spokesman for the Kentucky Division of Emergency Management, said in an interview. Officials from the Federal Emergency Management Agency are expected in the state on Monday to begin their own assessment, Mr. Bowman said.

        Two more counties and two more cities declared emergencies, bringing the total to 36 local governments.

        Gov. Paul Patton asked for federal damage assessments, which is routine in weather disasters. The FEMA assessments will help determine whether federal help is needed and, if so, what type.

        Mr. Bowman said the state's preliminary estimate is that home-repair or replacement and rental assistance for individual flood victims will amount to $19.3 million.

        Damage to roads, bridges and public buildings is estimated at $7.2 million, Mr. Bowman said. The totals do not include damages to businesses, he said.

        More than 300 residents were displaced in southeastern Kentucky because of flooding and state rivers approached levels considered to be a flood threat.

        Gov. Patton declared a state of emergency Thursday, a day after touring flood areas around Pineville and Harlan.

        Counties that declared emergencies were Bath, Bell, Boyd, Breathitt, Carter, Clark, Clay, Elliott, Fleming, Greenup, Harlan, Johnson, Knott, Knox, Lawrence, Leslie, McCreary, Magoffin, Montgomery, Perry, Rowan, Wayne and Whitley. Cities that declared emergencies were Barbourville, Benham, Cumberland, Evarts, Harlan, Loyall, Lynch, Morehead, Olive Hill, Paris, Pineville, Salt Lick and Wallins.

        Nearly 130 people have joined the relief effort in eastern Kentucky, according to Sean Travelstead, a disaster specialist for the American Red Cross chapter in Louisville.

        “We have emergency vehicles headed toward 16 counties in that part of the state to help residents,” Mr. Travelstead said. “We also have shelters set up in about eight counties so far. We'll probably have to set up more.”

        The National Weather Service forecast a chance of showers throughout the state beginning Sunday evening.

        “We could see about a half-inch of rain on Monday in eastern Kentucky, but by then much of the floodwater should be residing,” said Tony Hall, a meteorologist with the weather service.


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