PIKEVILLE — As the deadline for residents in Eastern Kentucky to apply for federal flood assistance passed on Monday, officials in the five eligible counties were more optimistic than they had been three months ago.
"Every day gets a little bit better," Breathitt County Judge-Executive Jason Richardson said.
Nearly everyone who was eligible for disaster assistance from the Federal Emergency Management Agency is getting it, he said, and of the 300 or so people displaced by heavy rain, mudslides and flooding May 8 and 9 in Breathitt County, 95 percent are in temporary or new housing.
School will open on time next month, including at Rousseau Elementary, which at one point was filled with water to the tops of door jambs. Some roads will still be impassable to school buses, but parents will be able to drop children off at safe sites to meet buses, Richardson said.
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In Pike County, where Johns Creek Elementary and Belfry Middle School were so damaged that students weren't able to finish the school year, repairs will be done in time to open school Aug. 12, Superintendent Roger Wagner said.
Pike emergency management director Doug Tackett said roads in all areas of the county are open now, and volunteer groups are helping people rebuild. Housing assistance in Pike County alone amounted to around $5 million, Tackett said.
In tiny Owsley County, seven older bridges were washed out by heavy rain and flooding between May 4 and May 10, Judge-Executive Cale Turner said. The county, which has fewer than 5,000 residents, had an estimated $2 million in damage to roads and public property.
County road crews have worked six days a week since Memorial Day, Turner said, and work on one of those seven bridges began Thursday.
"I'm thrilled to be back where we are in the road situation," he said.