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Another flood watch covers most of eastern Kentucky as senators meet with officials and families

Governor's Office

Wet weather forecasts remain a concern for already-battered portions of the state, which have only started the cleanup process in the wake of historic floods.

It's not the kind of forecast eastern Kentuckians might hope for.

Gov. Andy Beshear said flood watches are again in effect for most of eastern Kentucky through Wednesday night.

"A slow-moving cold front will sag toward eastern Kentucky through Wednesday. This will favor slow-moving storms with potential torrential downpours, possibly repeatedly moving over the same locations," Beshear reporter Tuesday morning, noting it's both a "real concern" but also the last major weather front predicted in the coming week.

"We still have many of the search and rescue teams on site awaiting getting through this event."
Gov. Andy Beshear

While disaster declarations from President Biden were swift and individual assistance from FEMA can be applied for in a dozen counties, Beshear said that assurance is only as good as the number of people who qualify and get that help.

"We need more people accepted and fewer people denied," the governor said.

Eligible residents can apply through DisasterAssistance.gov and 1-800-621-FEMA. If denied, the governor is recommending applicants go to one of five disaster recovery centers in Breathitt, Clay, Knott, Leslie, and Perry counties and speak face-to-face with a FEMA assistant who has access to the claims and can help fill in gaps or correct any mistakes that might be holding up the claim.

A day after President Joe Biden toured an eastern Kentucky community hard-hit by flooding, the state's two senators, Mitch McConnell and Rand Paul, have been meeting with officials and families on the ground.

McConnell's first stop — of many scheduled over Tuesday and Wednesday — was a supplies distribution center in Pikeville. He told local media the trip would have come sooner if not for the Senate being in session.

While McConnell discussed FEMA assistance and its importance in getting people in the region back on their feet, Kentucky's junior senator had some further ideas on how to divert already existing funds toward emergency relief.

In a briefing in Hazard, Paul said he's going to bring up the matter with the president.

"They're talking about a lot of water problems, a lot of water systems that need repair. I think... the president should give them a waiver because they have some money that's already been sent for COVID but they may think the water system is more pressing right now than testing for COVID," the senator explained.

Paul said he'll also be asking the governor to give communities for flexibility in using pandemic-related funds toward the flooding recovery.

But like the president and the governor, Paul praised Kentuckians' resilience and the way in-state and out-of-state responders rushed to the affected regions.

Josh James fell in love with college radio at Western Kentucky University's student station, New Rock 92 (now Revolution 91.7). After working as a DJ and program director, he knew he wanted to come home to Lexington and try his hand in public radio.