On the evening of Feb. 23, 2.88 inches of rain fell on the communities of Johnson County flooding homes and businesses, as well as public and private roadways and bridges. The Paintsville/Johnson County Emergency Management office worked with local fire departments to survey the damages throughout the city and county. The Johnson County Road Department quickly began clearing and repairing roadways in an effort to open all bus routes and then the work continued to address every county road in need of repair.

“We have been very pleased with the quick and efficient response from Emergency Management, County Road Superintendent Phillip Keeton, and the entire road department,” said Judge-Executive Mark McKenzie. 

Residents were asked to call Emergency Management to report damages to businesses and homes. After all reported damages to homes and businesses were documented and submitted to Kentucky Emergency Management, it was determined that Johnson County did not meet the criteria to receive an Individual Assistance Federal Declaration. Individual Assistance, administered by the Federal Emergency Management Agency is a program to provide

uninsured or underinsured individuals and households financial assistance in the recovery process.

“Facing the reality that IA is not going to be an option, we began looking at other alternatives for those in need of financial assistance. We made a request to U.S. Small Business Association (SBA) to visit the area to determine if Johnson County has enough damages to meet the criteria for assistance and a within a day a representative from SBA was dispatched to survey the damages,” Judge McKenzie said. 

SBA may provide assistance in the form of low-interest disaster loans for Johnson County, along with any contiguous counties impacted by the recent storm event. Homeowners, renters, businesses, and most non-profit organizations whose property was damaged or destroyed by this disaster will be able to make an application for low-interest loans.

“I know we have several homeowners who lost driveways, culverts, and bridges on private properties. An SBA loan may be an option to assist with the cost of repair or replacement of these facilities, if they connect the homeowner to the only access to their residence,” said Paintsville/Johnson County Emergency Management Director Gary McClure. The county expects to find out if SBA will be available in the coming weeks and if so, the public will be notified. 

The lack of FEMA Individual Assistance will require a greater reliance on local organizations, such as Christian Appalachian Project, a non-profit group which has worked to assist in relief efforts in Johnson County for many years. CAP’s Disaster Relief Program may be able to provide assistance with home cleanup and repair. For more information or to be screened for assistance, contact Jill Stafford, Housing/Disaster Relief Caseworker at, (606) 887-3058. For other disaster recovery questions, please contact Emergency Management at, (606) 789-2260.

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