(NEXSTAR) — Despite devastating flooding that washed away homes and killed at least 39 people in eastern Kentucky, Gov. Andy Beshear reports the Federal Emergency Management Agency is denying numerous relief requests from victims.
Surging waters last month swept away homes and inundated communities in the Appalachian region. While the search and rescue phase of the response is largely over, the cleanup effort has hit roadblocks.
Earlier this week, Beshear urged citizens to take their cases directly to the offices of FEMA employees who are stationed in the area.
The governor said, “we need to see better outcomes” for more eastern Kentuckians applying to FEMA for recovery assistance. Beshear, a Democrat, voiced his concerns to Democratic President Joe Biden during a visit to the region Monday. While on that visit, Biden said the federal government would provide support until residents were back on their feet.
The governor said most of the rejected claims centered around people not having the necessary documents.
FEMA Press Secretary Jeremy Edwards responded Thursday night that agency personnel will be in the flood-stricken region “as long as it takes” to help Kentuckians recover. Edwards said the agency’s leadership is working to “reduce barriers and cut red tape.”
“If you were denied assistance, that is not necessarily the end of the road,” Edwards said. “Something as simple as a missing document can cause an application to be deemed ineligible. The system isn’t perfect, and we know that the bureaucracy can be frustrating.”
If you want to help quickly get help to victims, WDKY-TV, our sister station in Lexington, is organizing efforts with the Kentucky-based non-profit Christian Appalachian Project. The group is actively engaged in on-the-ground support and could use financial assistance to keep the relief efforts running. If you want to donate, those donations can be made online by clicking here or by mail to:
Christian Appalachian Project
P.O. Box 55911
Lexington, KY 40555-5911
“We need volunteers to assess properties, begin cleanup, help sort and distribute needed items to families, cook, and help in the volunteer lodging facility,” said Becky Neuenschwander, coordinator of the command center and manager of CAP’s Mission Groups Program for volunteers. “The devastation covers so many counties, we are going to need help to provide assistance to families in need.”
The governor announced a fund to help gather resources for those in need.
“All donations to the Team Eastern Kentucky Flood Relief Fund are tax-deductible and donors will receive a receipt for tax purposes after donating. If you wish to donate to the Relief Fund, please select an amount and click on the donate button below,” the website reads.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.