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Kentucky Governor Criticizes FEMA Over Flooding

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FILE - A pickup remains underwater after flooding in Hindman, Ky., on Aug. 2, 2022. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson, File)

FILE – A pickup remains underwater after flooding in Hindman, Ky., on Aug. 2, 2022. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson, File)

AP

Governor Andy Beshear criticized the US Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) for turning down too many requests for assistance in flood-ravaged eastern Kentucky, where the number of people who have died as result of the disaster has increased to 39.

The official death count rose Thursday with another death in Breathitt County, said Beshear, who did not identify the person or provide other details.

“I ask the people of Kentucky to join me in praying for these state residents during this difficult time,” the Democratic governor said in a tweet.

Earlier this week, a high school athlete who spent days helping eastern Kentucky residents clean up after the historic flood was added as the 38th person to die as a result of the disaster.

Aaron “Mick” Crawford fell ill suddenly and died a few days later. Her mother, Ronda Crawford, told the Lexington Herald-Leader that her son “went into cardiac arrest,” but the family still doesn’t know what caused her son’s death.

Last month, rising waters swept away homes and inundated communities in the Appalachian region.

On Thursday, the governor reported that the affected area was “probably out of the emergency phase of response to this disaster.” Search and rescue teams that remained in the region to wait out additional threats of heavy rain have been given the green light to go home, Beshear said.

“That’s an important step that we’ve been waiting to get to this point, basically since the beginning of this,” the governor said.

As the massive cleanup continues, the governor has increased pressure on federal emergency officials to step up helping more people rebuild their lives.

Beshear complained Thursday that FEMA is denying too many requests for assistance and urged people to take their cases directly to agency staff in the region. The governor said “we need to see better results” for more Eastern Kentucky residents who ask FEMA for help.

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