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Gov. Beshear: Federal bureaucracy hampering Eastern KY flood assistance

Governor Beshear remains critical of the Federal Emergency Management Agency approval process of individual flood relief applications. During his briefing Thursday, the governor said the need for federal assistance in years past was different.

“We would muck ourselves out. We would hopefully be able to push through a small flood and we would get some reimbursement from FEMA over time. That is not what we’re dealing with anymore. We’re dealing with major natural disasters that come through and wipe out everything that people have,” said Beshear.

Beshear said the message for additional assistance is being heard on the ground with FEMA representatives in eastern Kentucky and at the top with the president. The governor noted the problem is in the middle layer of the federal agency. Beshear added FEMA has responded well when it comes to smaller amounts of financial benefits to help flood victims with day-to-day emergency needs.

Governor Beshear said some rain-free days have allowed many emergency response crews to pull out of flood-damaged eastern Kentucky. Beshear said the focus now is on stabilization with rebuilding still to come. And the governor said state resources for school construction will exceed that needed following western Kentucky tornadoes.

“We will need more than we needed in the west because in the west we really didn’t have structural damage to schools. So, here we’ll have not only the services that are needed for kids who have been through trauma, we will also have a full rebuild of a number of schools and it shouldn’t have to wait until another budget,” said Beshear.

So, the governor said this infusion of money could be approved during an upcoming special legislative session. Beshear noted he and legislative leaders continue to discuss when to hold the session, but it’s likely to be in the coming weeks.

Stu has been reporting for WEKU for more than 35 years. His primary beat is Lexington/Fayette government.
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