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FEMA officials begin flood damage assessments in Lee County

Posted at 8:39 PM, Mar 10, 2021

BEATTYVILLE, Ky. (LEX 18) — Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) officials arrived in Lee County on Wednesday morning to survey damage to homes and businesses caused by massive floodings in early March.

Gov. Andy Beshear declared a state of emergency on Feb. 28 following heavy rainfall that resulted in flash floods in several counties. The governor has announced he will be requesting two federal disaster declarations. One will be for damage the state saw during February’s ice storms and one will be for flooding damage.

FEMA officials in Lee County on Wednesday conducted surveys for individual assistance to homeowners, according to Lee County Emergency Management Director Jon Allen.

Allen said damage assessments for homes and businesses are expected to continue throughout the week.

“A lot of people are anxious and hope this will resolve quickly. Unfortunately, this is not a quick event,” said Judge-Executive Chuck Caudill. “We’re going to make our arguments that we deserve the help, but at the same time we have to take action right now.”

On Beattyville’s Main Street, clean-up continues but the path to recovery isn’t clear cut for everyone.

Ellen Warren has owned her shop, Ellen’s Uniques, for nearly 30 years. Parts of her businesses were completely submerged underwater during the floods. She said she doesn’t believe she can salvage any of the items in her store.

“We need FEMA to come in and we need help. Myself, I don’t know what to do. This was a 100% loss. I don’t know where to go,” she said. “It’s just heartbreaking.”

Warren has had family come in to help, but she said the aftermath has been devastating. She’s counting on federal aid to get back on her feet.

“If we don’t have businesses in our town, if they’re not open again, our town is gonna dry up,” Warren said.

Down the road from Ellen’s Uniques, Don Begley is making arrangements to dispose of approximately 100 cars in his auto repair shop that were submerged during the flooding.

“Some of them were good, some were bad, but we’re gonna crush them all now,” Begley said.

As a Lee County native, Begley said he’s experienced his fair share of floodings, but he never expected to see this kind of destruction.

“Water is very powerful, you know,” Begley said. “On Main Street here last Sunday it was like a war zone. Everybody was turning out the inside of their buildings and bringing things out. It’s a sad occasion really, but we’ll bounce back.”

“This hurts badly,” Caudill said of the flood damage. “But these people make a difference and they’re not going to give up.”

Officials are urging those affected by the flooding to report any damages.

In Lee County, supplies and donations can be found at Happy Top Park for those needing cleaning supplies or food.

Kentuckians in need of help can also call the Kentucky Floods Cleanup Hotline at 800-451-1954.