Obama declares disaster area for seven Eastern Kentucky counties

kward1@herald-leader.comJuly 26, 2011 

President Barack Obama has declared seven Eastern Kentucky counties a disaster area as a result of severe storms, tornadoes and flooding from June 19-23.

The state government and local governments — as well as some non-profit organizations — in Bell, Breathitt, Knott, Knox, Lee, Magoffin and Perry counties will be eligible for federal aid to help pay for emergency work and repairing facilities damaged by the severe weather.

The funding will be available "on a cost-sharing basis," according to a news release issued by the White House on Monday. Federal funding is also available for hazard mitigation measures in all Kentucky counties on a cost-sharing basis, the release stated.

Gov. Steve Beshear asked the president for the disaster declaration for the seven counties July 13.

Severe thunderstorms rolled through several Eastern Kentucky counties last month, causing flash flooding, hail and high winds that damaged public and private property. One death was attributed to the storms.

Evaluation teams estimated that public sector damages exceeded $5.7 million.

Five counties — Bell, Breathitt, Knox, Lee and Perry — had also requested assistance for individuals and households.

The evaluation teams identified more than 350 homes and 65 businesses that were badly damaged or destroyed.

FEMA said other disaster designations may be made later, based on "the results of further damage assessments."

Steven S. Ward was named the federal coordinating officer for federal recovery operations in the seven counties.

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