'It's been a tough year in Kentucky': Attorneys to fight for eastern Kentucky flood victims

berk eky flooding fema story
Posted at 5:00 PM, Aug 18, 2022

LEXINGTON, Ky. (LEX 18) — As of now, eastern Kentucky flood victims who’ve filed claims with FEMA are being accepted at about a 50% clip. This represents an improvement from the 30 percent acceptance rate, which Governor Beshear noted during his weekly address on Thursday.

Still, the attorneys inside Dinsmore, a full-service law firm with offices in Lexington, believe that number needs to be much higher. On Friday, they will be trying to help move it in the right direction.

“We’re taking a day. It’s a day out of our lives, but these people’s lives have been upended for weeks,” said August Johannsen, an Associate attorney with the firm.

Johannsen, and five of his colleagues, will be heading to Whitesburg on Friday to help any flood victim who has had their claim denied by FEMA. Essentially, they will help start the appeals process, and they’ll be doing so free of charge.

“Some of us have donated financially, or by sending supplies, but this is the least we could do,” Johannsen said.

Johannsen has been inspired by the statewide support we’ve seen from Kentuckians going back to the tornadoes in December, which ravaged parts of western Kentucky.

“It’s been a tough year in Kentucky,” he said, before rattling off the weather-related issues we’ve had that have cost so many people everything, including loss of life. “It’s been nice seeing so much support from the people of the Commonwealth and around the country,” he continued.

Now this team of seasoned legal professionals will be supporting those who need that type of counsel right now. The attorneys will gather at the Pine Mountain Grill located at 45 U.S. 119 in Whitesburg from 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. on Friday. They hope the hours spent there can get the ball rolling in the right direction as it pertains to denied FEMA claims.

“We’re going to do everything we can to advance that process, but people should know things are not going to be resolved tomorrow,” he warned. “You’re not going to get a check tomorrow, but hopefully we’ll get the information back to FEMA, and that determination will be made in their favor,” he continued.

Mr. Johannsen said the more documentation victims can bring to the table on Friday, the easier it’ll be to get the appeals process in motion. He requested any correspondence from FEMA or private insurers. And if you have already started the rebuilding process, contractor estimates will be helpful to Johannsen and the others when they begin interacting with officials from FEMA.

“There are needs that are going to continue for weeks and months. And the relief effort is going to take years, probably,” he stated.

On Friday, Johannsen and his co-workers will be offering several hours of their time to help victims expedite all of it.