KENTUCKY (WEHT) – Governor Andy Beshear delivered his weekly Team Kentucky update on Thursday to discuss infrastructure awards, an award to plug orphan wells, Childhood Cancer Awareness Month and Hunger Action Month. Beshear also provided updates on the eastern Kentucky flood recovery as well as the western Kentucky tornado recovery.

Kentucky flood update

Governor Beshear confirmed there were no new fatalities confirmed, leaving the total at 39 across five counties. Beshear said Kentucky Emergency Management has coordinated with the Kentucky State Police Aviation Branch to conduct an aerial search for the two missing Breathitt County citizens. Vanessa Baker, 60, and Nancy Cundiff, 29, were both reported missing from the Lost Creek community.

Governor Beshear reported there are around 262 power outages as a result of the flooding, down from 27,000 on July 29. All drinking water systems are now operational after 22 were down following the flooding.

On Tuesday, Governor Beshear presented $11.6 million for four projects to improve infrastructure, public safety and water treatment in Perry County. He also announced the start of a project to replace almost 20,000 feet of waterlines and awarded $2.6 million in funding to improve water infrastructure in Floyd County.

While in Perry and Floyd counties, the Governor updated Kentuckians on the travel trailers enroute to Floyd, Letcher and Perry counties, donated by the State of Louisiana after they were originally purchased to house Hurricane Ida survivors.

Western Kentucky tornado update

Governor Beshear also discussed recovery efforts nearly nine months after the deadly December 10 tornadoes in western Kentucky.

“Soon we will recognize the nine-month anniversary of the December 10-11 tornadoes. As we continue to mourn those we lost, I want to provide some updates on where we stand on helping the survivors of the Western Kentucky storms rebuild and recover,” Gov. Beshear said. “We continue to stand with Western Kentucky.”

Governor Beshear said through the Western Kentucky State Aid for Emergencies (SAFE) Fund $71.3 million has been approved to provide victims shelter in travel trailers, support impacted schools and their students and provide local rebuilding assistance. He also said the Team Western Kentucky Tornado Relief Fund raised more than $52 million, with more than $42.5 million committed from the fund for both short- and long-term recovery efforts including paying for victims’ funerals and housing.

Orphan wells

Governor Beshear announced a $25 million federal grant to plug orphan oil and gas wells across the commonwealth as part of his Better Kentucky Plan’s Stronger Communities Program. Beshear estimates the initiative will create 180 jobs.

Childhood Cancer Awareness and Hunger Action Month

Last week, Governor Beshear signed a proclamation recognizing September as Childhood Cancer Awareness Month. Childhood cancer is the number 1 cause of death by disease in children, and 1 in 285 children and teens in the United States will be diagnosed with cancer before their birthday according to a release from the governor’s office. In each year since his inauguration, Governor Beshear has recognized Childhood Cancer Awareness Month as well as David Turner Jr. Ice Cream Day, in honor of a 9-year-old Kentuckian who died of cancer.

On Wednesday, Beshear, along with advocates from Feeding Kentucky and regional food banks, recognized September as Hunger Action Month in the commonwealth. According to the governor’s office, Kentucky has the ninth-highest rate of hunger in the nation.

COVID-19 and monkeypox

Governor Beshear urged eligible Kentuckians to get the new booster shots that protect against the omicron subvariants as COVID-19 continues to spread in the commonwealth. According to Beshear, 34 cases of monkeypox have been identified in Kentucky. The governor urged anyone who is at risk of contracting monkeypox to identify options for obtaining the vaccine.

Team Kentucky All-stars

Governor Beshear named Kentucky State Parks employees as this week’s Team Kentucky All-stars. Following July’s flooding in eastern Kentucky, more than 350 individuals have been provided emergency shelter at four state parks. Park staff have also been working with the American Red Cross, local churches, businesses and restaurants to ensure eastern Kentucky flood victims have basic needs such as food shelter and clothing.

“Our state employees at the parks are true Team Kentucky All-Stars and I want to recognize them and celebrate their efforts today,” said Gov. Beshear. “Thank you to every Team Kentucky member working at these four parks and across our entire Kentucky State Parks team for everything you are doing.”