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FEMA claim approvals in eastern Kentucky increase following criticism out of Frankfort and Washington

Brynn Anderson/AP
A fire truck is seen hangin over the edge of the water propped against a bridge on Wednesday, Aug. 3, 2022, in Hindman, Ky., after massive flooding carried the fire truck towards the water. Temperatures are soaring in a region of eastern Kentucky where people are shoveling out the wreckage of massive flooding. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)

Gov. Andy Beshear says more eastern Kentucky residents are seeing approved claims from FEMA — following complaints that the federal agency was sending out too many rejections.

In the aftermath of the deadly floods in eastern Kentucky, Beshear and others have been vocal about their concerns when it comes to denied FEMA claims for individual assistance.

Now that FEMA has responded, granting some on-the-ground workers authority to approve claims, the governor said the picture is improving.

"We're now up to 52% of all applications that have been made having been approved for at least some level of assistance. When I first got these numbers, it was about 36-37%. We've pushed really hard. I believe this is one of the highest percentages we've seen in a FEMA response. Now, it needs to be higher, but that is progress and we are seeing, thankfully, more pressure."
Gov. Andy Beshear

Beshear said that pressure has helped turn about 2,000 denials into approvals.

There was also an update Thursday on the issue of washed out private bridges in the region.

Beshear said 423 such bridges have been registered for federal relief. The move is a first step, guaranteeing they will be assessed by state and federal agencies but not necessarily deemed eligible for assistance.

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.