File-Kentucky floods 2022

Teresa Reynolds sits exhausted as members of her community clean the debris from their flood ravaged homes in Ogden Hollar at Hindman, Kentucky.

(The Center Square) – The recovery effort from last week’s devastating floods continued in eastern Kentucky on Monday even as the region was hit with more rain.

At least 35 people have died due to the disaster, a number expected to rise, Gov. Andy Beshear said during a briefing. The state still does not have “a firm grasp” on the number of people missing, but the governor said it’s likely in the hundreds at a minimum.

The bodies have been taken to Frankfort, where refrigerated trucks are used as medical examiners conduct autopsies.

On Sunday, FEMA announced homeowners and renters in Breathitt, Clay, Knott, Letcher and Perry counties have been approved to apply for disaster aid. The federal government funding may cover such needs as short-term lodging and home repairs.

Beshear followed that announcement with a letter to the agency asking for seven other counties – Floyd, Johnson, Leslie, Magoffin, Martin, Owsley and Pike – in the region to receive a similar declaration. He told reporters he expects those to be approved, referring to how FEMA handled similar declarations for last December’s tornado outbreak in western Kentucky.

However, the federal aid will likely not cover all the damages incurred, and the governor said few people in the region have flood insurance due to the expense. He said he’s started talking with Senate President Robert Stivers, R-Manchester, and other lawmakers about legislation that could help the region.

‘We’re just trying to get through the search and the rescue phase, so we have a clear idea of what’s needed,” Beshear said.

That will likely include funding to repair or rebuild several damaged or destroyed schools last week. For several schools, the costs are already reaching millions of dollars.

With schools scheduled to start in the next couple of weeks, Beshear said at least a couple of districts likely won’t be ready to welcome back students.

“We’re going to need to provide them similar relief that we did in the west,” he added.

The disaster has also led Beshear to cancel his planned trip to Israel, which he announced a little over a week ago.

The governor had cited that trip as why he would not attend this weekend’s Fancy Farm Picnic. However, he told reporters that he could not leave the state as people were still recovering from the flood.