Gov. Matt Bevin sent a letter last week to President Donald Trump, requesting a presidential disaster declaration for 58 Kentucky counties that were impacted during a severe weather event in February and March, including Johnson County. 

The system produced extended episodes of strong winds and torrential rain which caused flooding, flash flooding, landslides and mudslides, according to a statement from Bevin’s office.

The weather system caused more than $41 million in damages statewide, the majority of that related to highways, bridges, and utility infrastructure, according to the statement, which said three Kentuckians lost their lives during this event, along with many minor injuries.

“This requested Presidential Disaster Declaration will provide nearly one half of Kentucky’s counties with federal assistance as they recover from widespread severe storms and flooding in recent weeks,” Bevin said in the statement. “The resiliency of the Commonwealth’s communities is truly inspiring, and our hope is that this Declaration request will yield much-needed resources to assist local governments across the state in recovery efforts.”

“The Commonwealth has again been on the receiving end of another major flooding event,” said Kentucky Emergency Management (KYEM) director Michael Dossett. “We are hopeful for federal assistance to our cities and counties in their efforts to repair and restore infrastructure for our Commonwealth’s communities.”

The statement said the following counties are included in this request: Ballard, Bell, Boyd, Breathitt, Butler, Campbell, Carlisle, Carroll, Carter, Clay, Clinton, Crittenden, Cumberland, Edmonson, Elliott, Estill, Floyd, Fulton, Grant, Hancock, Harlan, Henderson, Henry, Hickman, Jackson, Johnson, Knott, Knox, Laurel, Lawrence, Lee, Leslie, Letcher, Livingston, Lyon, Madison, Magoffin, Marshall, Martin, McCracken, McCreary, Metcalfe, Monroe, Morgan, Owsley, Pendleton, Perry, Pike, Powell, Rockcastle, Russell, Simpson, Trigg, Union, Wayne, Webster, Whitley, and Wolfe.

Backing this request are several Kentucky congressmen, including U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Senator Rand Paul, and Representatives Hal Rogers (KY-05), John Yarmuth (KY-03), Brett Guthrie (KY-02), Thomas Massie (KY-04), Andy Barr (KY-06), and James Comer (KY-01), who, together, sent a letter to President Donald Trump expressing their support for Bevin’s request for a federal disaster declaration for Kentucky.

In the letter to the president, the delegation wrote, “From February 6 through March 10, 2019, the Commonwealth of Kentucky experienced severe weather that produced strong wind and torrential rain, which caused severe flooding, landslides, mudslides, and the tragic death of three individuals.”

Additionally, they wrote, the severe weather affected numerous counties in Kentucky, which caused “extensive damage exceeding the ability of the state government and localities to effectively respond. As the Governor conveyed in his letter, the Commonwealth has well surpassed the $6.5 million expenditure threshold required for consideration of federal disaster assistance in accordance with the provisions of the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act. We ask for your timely consideration of the Governor’s disaster declaration request, which would aid Kentucky communities and families severely impacted by this most recent disaster.”

Tamim Choudhury with the Small Business Administration attended the meetings of both the Johnson County Fiscal Court and Paintsville City Council on Monday, explaining the availability of SBA loans, which will be available to homeowners, renters and business owners, including private, nonprofit organizations.

Choudhury said the SBA will be set up to answer questions at the Johnson County Courthouse for the remainder of the week, with operations wrapping up Friday at 4 p.m., though the deadline to apply for loans for physical property damage is not until June 3. 

“Loans up to $200,000 are available to homeowners to repair or replace damaged or destroyed real estate. Homeowners and renters are eligible for loans up to $40,000 to repair or replace damaged or destroyed personal property,” said Kem Fleming, center director of SBA’s Field Operations Center East in Atlanta.  

Businesses and private nonprofit organizations may borrow up to $2 million to repair or replace disaster damaged or destroyed real estate, machinery and equipment, inventory, and other business assets. For small businesses, small agricultural cooperatives, small businesses engaged in aquaculture and most private nonprofit organizations, the SBA offers Economic Injury Disaster Loans to help meet working capital needs caused by the disaster.  Economic Injury Disaster Loan assistance is available regardless of whether the business suffered any physical property damage. 

Interest rates are as low as 4 percent for businesses, 2.75 percent for nonprofit organizations, and 2.063 percent for homeowners and renters with terms up to 30 years.  Loan amount and terms are set by the SBA and are based on each applicant’s financial condition.

“The SBA is strongly committed to providing the people of Kentucky with the most effective and customer-focused response possible to assist businesses of all sizes, homeowners and renters with federal disaster loans,” said SBA Administrator Linda McMahon. “Getting businesses and communities up and running after a disaster is our highest priority at SBA.”

“The approval of the Governor’s request for a Small Business Administration disaster declaration demonstrates the diverse partnerships that exist to provide assistance and an opportunity to eligible individuals in the declared counties to create a better tomorrow,” said the governor’s representative Michael E. Dossett, who sent the letter requesting SBA loans to the administration on Bevin’s behalf. “Long-term recovery is an arduous process and SBA has always played a strong role in helping our citizens in their time of need.  We appreciate having them as part of the Emergency Management team.”

For more information, those interested in the loans may apply in person at the Johnson County Fiscal Court for the remainder of the week until Friday from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. or visit, www.sba.gov.

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