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'We're gonna need a lot of sustained help': Beshear calls special session for eastern Kentucky

"I think that eastern Kentucky often times feels very forgotten, particularly in Frankfort, particularly in D.C.," Appalshop's Meredith Scalos said.

FRANKFORT, Ky. — Nearly a month after catastrophic flooding devastated areas of eastern Kentucky, Gov. Andy Beshear has called a special session.

The governor said he had been speaking with state leaders since the storm hit to come up with a safe fund much like the Western Kentucky Tornado Relief Fund, which the state can keep money in to help the counties affected. 

“We’ve had productive conversations – not bipartisan, but nonpartisan. We have now reached an agreement,” Beshear said in a video released on Twitter.

Residents in 12 counties affected by the flood will be able to submit applications on Wednesday for disaster food assistance.

"We're gonna need a lot of sustained help in eastern Kentucky, especially considering the infrastructure issues that we already were having," said Meredith Scalos, the communications director for Appalshop in Whitesburg, Kentucky.

Republican Rep. Jason Nemes of Middletown in Louisville said the special session is necessary.

"When you talk to the eastern Kentucky local officials, the county judges and their mayors, what they tell you is they just need money quickly, they need money for, for cleanup, and for removal of some things," he said.

When it comes to FEMA assistance, many feel it hasn't been enough.

"They've done very well in western Kentucky and in other areas. We think they've fallen a little short here," Nemes said.

Scalos also said the FEMA aid, and some of the other emergency aid, is not enough.

"So I'm thinking about housing for folks, right? Because some of these houses are not even in a position to be rebuilt," she said.

Regarding getting the bill passed, Democratic Rep. Joni Jenkins of Dist. 44 said she expects everyone to work together across the aisle.

She said after reviewing some drafts, she thinks somewhere around $275 million could be expected to head to eastern Kentucky.

"We have been pushing drafts of the bill back and forth for a couple of weeks now. And I think everybody, everybody wants to make sure we do what's right for eastern Kentucky," Jenkins said.

That $275 million is just from the preliminary drafting; the relief could be more as the session progresses.

For Scalos, she noted the Appalshop contributes over a million dollars annually back into the local economy, so she'd like to see legislators make sure people, along with their businesses, get back on their feet.

"I think that eastern Kentucky often times feels very forgotten, particularly in Frankfort, particularly in D.C. And so I would encourage everyone who's not from the area to really think about that critically," she said.

Flood victims can call (833) 371-8570 from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday and 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturdays. They are urging people to use the phone service because it is the fastest way to receive benefits.

Those needing help can also go in person at a Department for Community Based Services office or at a Disaster Recovery Center. Click here for more information.

The special session is expected to begin at 3 p.m. on Wednesday.

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