KENTUCKY (WEHT) – Governor Andy Beshear said he spoke with officials from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and was pleased to hear that the agency is taking more steps to help people affected by the historic flooding.

A press release says the steps FEMA have taken include:

  1. Calling everyone who has been denied. Because of this, the Governor encouraged people affected by flooding to answer their phones when called, even if it’s from an unfamiliar number.
  2. For the first time ever, FEMA has implemented a texting program. The agency will soon be able to communicate with flood-impacted Kentuckians via text message to help speed communications and appointments.
  3. FEMA staff at the Disaster Recovery Centers (DRC) now have the authority to approve claims onsite. FEMA says they have additional appointments available and encouraged Kentuckians to visit one of the DRC locations.
  4. In some of the mobile units that are traveling home-to-home, there may be a FEMA representative who can give approval on a claim onsite.

“This is critically important as we move forward, and I appreciate the extra steps FEMA is taking,” Gov. Beshear said. “I urge flood victims to have all documentation on hand in case their application can be approved during a DRC appointment or onsite property visit.”

Fatalities and Missing Persons

Governor Beshear said there are 39 confirmed fatalities in five counties:

  • 8 – Breathitt
  • 2 – Clay
  • 19 – Knott
  • 3 – Letcher
  • 7 – Perry

The press release says Kentucky State Police (KSP) continues to search for two missing people from Breathitt County – down from 130 individuals – who have been missing since the flood:

  • Vanessa Baker, 60, from the Lost Creek Community. Her last known location was at her residence in the area of Lower River Caney Road.
  • Nancy Cundiff, 29, from the Lost Creek Community. Her last known location was at her residence in the area of Lower River Caney Road.
  • Anyone with information about either woman is asked to contact Post 13 in Hazard at 606-435-6069.

Travel Trailers

The press release says Kentucky immediately began moving empty trailers formerly bought for the December tornadoes in Western Kentucky to Eastern Kentucky after the floods. People seeking emergency shelter in travel trailers, can find more information and register at this website or call 502-234-1225.

Team Eastern Kentucky Flood Relief Fund

Governor Beshear’s Office says the donated amount stands at $6,224,974. A total of 37 funeral payments have been dispersed totaling $370,000. Gov. Beshear has asked people to not donate clothing, as clothes are overcrowding storage space. He said to please focus on monetary donations through trusted funds. To donate online, visit this website.

Roadways and Bridges Update

The press release says 100% of assessments on public bridges have been completed, with 1,098 bridges inventoried, 27 state and county bridges remain impassable, 56 bridges have been identified for replacement, and an additional 52 bridges have been identified as needing repair.

Disaster Unemployment Assistance

The Governor’s Office says residents in Breathitt, Clay, Floyd, Knott, Leslie, Letcher, Magoffin, Martin, Owsley, Perry, Pike and Whitley counties are now eligible for DUA benefits and can file an application online through the Kentucky Career Center website or by phone at 502-875-0442. To learn more, see the full release.

To see a full list of Governor Beshear’s executive actions in response to Eastern Kentucky flooding, click here.