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Beshear promises more aid for eastern Kentucky flood recovery

 Governor Beshear speaks to a crowd of people.
Jared Bennett
Gov. Beshear speaks to a crowd in Whitesburg on the anniversary of the eastern Kentucky floods.

Beshear said the Team Eastern Kentucky Flood Relief Fund has raised over $13 million from more than 41,500 donors.

On the anniversary of the eastern Kentucky flood, Gov. Andy Beshear spoke to a crowd of flood survivors and community members at CANE Kitchen, a hub for services in the wake of the disaster that gave out thousands of free meals to people in Whitesburg.

The governor said the devastation caused by the flood made this the most difficult recovery in U.S. history, but promised that more help was on the way.

“We're going to go from building a home to building a neighborhood,” Beshear said. “Year two is when you’re not just going to see a specter of hope, but it's going to get brighter and brighter and brighter.”

Beshear said the Team Eastern Kentucky Flood Relief Fund has raised over $13 million from more than 41,500 donors so far. He said that money has paid for funerals for those who were killed by the flood, and will eventually help build more than 100 homes in the area.

Beshear celebrated other efforts to address the region's housing shortage, including the newly announced Cottages at Thompson Branch, a housing development to be built on old mining land in Letcher County.

“We've never had a project like this that has FEMA, that has the state government, and that has county government all working together to turn what's supposed to be temporary housing into permanent good housing for our residents,” Beshear said.

Jamie Robbins, a director of operations for the state’s debris removal contractor AshBritt, said damage caused by last year’s flood was at the same level as that of Hurricane Katrina in 2005 and posed unique challenges.

“The back roads of Kentucky are something different,” Robbins said, while thanking local subcontractors.

In recent months, the Kentucky Center for Investigative Reporting has shown that the cleanup process is still incomplete as costs continue to balloon.

Officials have defended the process, saying the state followed procurement rules and that the disaster was “not normal.”

Jared Bennett is an investigative reporter and deputy editor for LPM. Email Jared at jbennett@lpm.org.

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