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Beshear: school flooding damages ‘probably’ over $100 million

In downtown Neon, Kentucky debris fills the sidewalks as locals and volunteers gut water damaged buildings.
Justin Hicks
In downtown Neon, Kentucky debris fills the sidewalks as locals and volunteers gut water damaged buildings.

As eastern Kentucky grapples with the aftermath of historic flash flooding, key infrastructure like schools, transportation, power and water systems will take a long time to rebuild.

Some schools are acting as emergency shelters in the wake of the disaster and many districts have already announced delayed starts to the school year. In a news conference, Gov. Andy Beshear said the cost of rebuilding and repairing school systems in the region will be massive.

“When looking at schools, there’s two things: there’s damage assessments and when school is going to start. But school damages are in the tens of millions, probably over  $100 million.”

Beshear said just the school cleanup costs in Knott County, one of the areas hardest hit by flooding, was estimated at over $1 million. 

“We’ve been talking to legislative leaders and we’re all committed to providing funding for our school system and working on a package like the SAFE Act in western Kentucky,” Beshear said.

The governor is considering calling a special legislative session to pass a relief package for flood impacted regions. He said he’s made significant progress discussing possible solutions with lawmakers.

“We’ve put together some drafts for review from the legislature. We had a good conversation today with area legislators if and when we have a special session. We’re working on what that would look like,” Beshear said.

Beshear  said he is worried about soaring temperatures in eastern Kentucky and a “slight risk of heavy rainfall in a few days.” Cooling centers are open in six counties.

So far, 37 people are reported dead in the flooding and three are reported missing.

Divya is LPM's Race & Equity Reporter. Email Divya at dkarthikeyan@lpm.org.

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