FLAT GAP – Lieutenant Governor Crit Luallen today viewed catastrophic damage in Eastern Kentucky from this week’s severe storms and flooding, and reaffirmed Kentucky’s commitment to get relief to citizens quickly and assist with recovery efforts.
“This is truly a devastating natural disaster,” Lt. Gov. Luallen said. “While this disaster doesn’t touch thousands of people like some others do, for the people it has touched it is truly devastating. We saw the damage to homes. We saw damage to roadways. We saw damage to trailers. People have lost everything. We met with some of these families who are out there now trying to recover as many of their personal items that they can. And their lives have been destroyed.
“What’s important for us as elected leaders is to be here to send the message that state, local and federal officials are all working in partnership. What’s critical is that all of us are working together as a team to make sure this community, this county, these families receive the support they need as they move forward.”
Lt. Gov. Luallen said Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) officials will be in the area Monday to assess the damage.
The Lieutenant Governor participated in a site survey of the damage by air and ground. State and local officials on the scene in the Flat Gap community briefed Lt. Gov. Luallen on the findings of damage assessments, and on the status of ongoing recovery efforts.
“What we saw was a county and its people with a resiliency and hope despite this horrible blow to their community and families,” Lt. Gov. Luallen said.
Gov. Steve Beshear on Tuesday declared a state of emergency in the Commonwealth, to allow local officials immediate access to state resources to assist in public safety and recovery efforts.
Speaking at a news conference at Johnson Central High School in Paintsville, Lt. Gov. Luallen said there have been two fatalities confirmed from the storm; two persons are missing, and search and rescue efforts are ongoing. An estimated 100 to 150 homes have been affected.
The Johnson County Long Term Recovery Committee will begin meeting Friday about recovery efforts in response to the flooding. Its first focus will be on immediate needs, as well as on long-term recovery efforts.
The Kentucky National Guard and Kentucky Division of Emergency Management (KYEM) officials have been on the ground in Johnson County since Tuesday and will continue to monitor areas statewide for further reports of damage. The Kentucky Transportation Cabinet on Monday waived certain highway restrictions for out-of-state utility vehicles traveling nationally to areas with widespread power outages.
The Governor has instructed KYEM to continue conversations with FEMA officials to ensure Kentucky has every form of assistance necessary to recover from these storms.
“Our hearts go out to those who have lost loved ones and to those loved ones who are still missing,” Lt. Gov. Luallen said. “There is nothing more devastating in a situation like this to not know the outcome for these particular individuals. Our hearts and prayers are with those still wrestling with those issues.”