KENTUCKY (WEHT) — Kentucky Senator Mitch McConnell discussed with local lawmakers today what Kentuckians have done since floods tore through parts of the state. This is what he had to say:
“It’s been just over a month since relentless rains and major flooding devastated Eastern Kentucky.
“This disaster took homes, businesses, and at least thirty-nine lives. Only a few months after tornadoes had caused widespread damage in the western part of our state, catastrophe struck our Commonwealth yet again.
“I traveled back to Eastern Kentucky multiple times during the August state work period to survey damage, meet with survivors, and lend any help I could.
“What I saw were scenes of absolute destruction. Water-logged houses. Swollen creeks. Washed-out roads.
“I heard directly from survivors who have shouldered impossible burdens over the past month, struggling to salvage belongings and rebuild their lives.
“Agencies report that thousands of homes were destroyed and damaged in the flooding. Many of those affected lack flood insurance.
“I will say that, as devastating as this flooding was, stories of heroism and generosity still shine through.
“The local officials I met with reserved special praise for Kentucky’s National Guard. Our Guardsmen mobilized at the outset of this crisis to perform daring rescues and distribute critical supplies to stranded residents.
“Regular citizens also came to the aid of their neighbors and friends in any way they could, sometimes in trucks, sometimes on horseback or jet skis.
“Help has poured in from around our state and beyond, both from private charities and trained emergency responders.
“But of course there is still a tremendous need for help.
“Eastern Kentucky has notoriously rugged terrain. It also had preexisting communications issues before these floods. These factors have made rescue and rebuilding uniquely challenging already, and this is only the start.
“Though FEMA is playing a critical role in Eastern Kentucky’s recovery, Kentuckians have grave concerns about shortcomings in the federal response. The agency’s convoluted application processes have left far too many flood victims without the timely aid they need, often due to simple clerical errors.
“I heard about these issues firsthand from countless Kentuckians I met during my visits.
“Of course I quickly called FEMA Administrator Criswell to say her agency needs to step up. I visited the Kentucky Emergency Operations Center to review the joint state and federal response firsthand. And I convened leaders from our hardest-hit counties, state legislature, and federal response agencies so we have clearer lines of communication moving forward.
“I hope and expect aid will begin to flow more smoothly to Eastern Kentucky soon, and I’ll continue working around the clock here in Washington to make it happen.
“And I promise to keep standing strong by Eastern Kentucky’s side as our immediate efforts evolve into longer-term rebuilding.
“A long road to recovery lies before us. But Eastern Kentucky will come back stronger than ever.”