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More federal officials promise help for eastern Kentucky, locals hope they keep their word

Isom IGA in Isom, KY damaged by flooding in late July
Tom Carew
Isom IGA in Isom, KY damaged by flooding in late July

Clean up and rebuilding efforts in eastern Kentucky continue as people work to put their lives back together. Along with homes, many businesses were damaged or destroyed. This has left many people out of a job and hurt the livelihoods of business owners.

One of these was the Isom IGA in Letcher County. It is one of the only grocery stores for miles in that area. On Friday the U.S. Under Secretary of Rural Development Xochitl Torres Small visited eastern Kentucky to survey the damage.

She met with the owner of the grocery store and during remarks to reporters, praised the people of eastern Kentucky.

“Eastern Kentucky is full of very resilient people. Hard working people who are there for each other and the Biden-Harris administration wants to be there for eastern Kentucky. That is why when President Biden was in the area, he committed a robust response.”

Last week President Biden touted his Bipartisan Infrastructure Law as a way to rebuild and improve conditions in the region. Flood survivors are still having difficulty getting approved for federal assistance.

Gwen Christon owns the Ison IGA. She wants the government to stick to their word about staying.

“We do have hope, we are hard workers, we are resilient, we love our neighbors, love out families. We just want to be good citizens, so we hope you all will stay with us long term ‘til we can rebuild and continue on with our lives.”

FEMA officials say direct federal assistance will cover 100% of the total cost for a 30-day period of the Commonwealth’s choosing within the first 120 days of the declaration.

Governor Beshear has been critical of the FEMA response, saying too many Kentuckians have been denied assistance.

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Stan Ingold is WEKU's News Director. He has worked in public broadcasting for 18 years, starting at Morehead State Public Radio before spending the past 10 years at Alabama Public Radio. Stan has been honored with numerous journalism awards for his public radio reporting.
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