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DUA relief for Ballard, Carlisle and Fulton - coming soon? Ballard gets the nod

UPDATE: Ballard was added to the list of counties now eligible for Disaster Unemployment Relief. Other counties are Daviess, Henderson, Lawrence, McLean and Pike. The deadline for those seeking relief in these counties to apply is July 5, 2011.

When filing a claim, self-employed individuals should bring a copy of their 2010 income tax return.  Other applicants need only a photo-identification card and their Social Security number.

The following counties were previously announced on May 24, 2011, - Boyd, Crittenden, Graves, Hardin, Hickman, Jefferson, Livingston, Marshall, McCracken, Webster and Union. Additional counties may be designated for federal disaster assistance at a later date if requested by the Commonwealth and warranted by the results of further damage assessments.

More information about this disaster is available at http://www.kyem.ky.gov/aprilsevereweather.htm.

OET helps individuals prepare for, secure and maintain employment; assists employers in locating and selecting the best qualified workers for their job openings; and provides income maintenance to ease the financial burden on individuals who are out of work through no fault of their own.

The Kentucky Education and Workforce Development Cabinet coordinates learning programs from P-16, and manages and supports training and employment functions in the Department of Workforce Investment. For more information about services, visit www.educationcabinet.ky.gov or www.workforce.ky.gov.

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“June 24th deadline for severe weather-related unemployment insurance” was the headline of a Kentucky Education and Workforce Development press release that led me to a roundabout of phone calls to state and federal officials over the past two days.  

The release named eleven counties as having qualified for Disaster Unemployment Assistance (DUA): Boyd, Crittenden, Graves, Hardin, Hickman, Jefferson, Livingston, Marshall, McCracken, Webster and Union Counties. 

I noted that counties that were especially hard hit by severe weather in our area were not on the list. Carlisle County lost a good portion of its downtown to wind damage in April. In addition to flooded homes, businesses and water covered roads, Ballard County lost its largest employer, NewPage, for close to two weeks.

The county seat of Fulton County, Hickman, was flooded and for a time it looked like the whole town would go under. The levees were leaking and sand blows threatened the integrity of the system. One of the positive effects of the Corps blowing up the Birds Point Levees that didn’t get reported was the saving of Hickman, Kentucky.

Not one - Ballard, Carlisle or Fulton, made the DUA list. I wondered why and emailed Kim Brannock, the contact person for the press release. 

Her response was “The declaration is made by the federal government, so I'm not sure what the criteria is for the program. Also, more counties can be added to the declaration. You may want to talk to FEMA about the criteria it uses to decide if a county is eligible for assistance.”

 …and she sent me a phone number for FEMA.

I called the number for FEMA and the nice man – whose name I didn’t get to write down – told me that the criteria for FEMA disaster selection includes the number of homes damaged, the rate of homeowners with insurance and the severity of damage. He added that it’s the Governor who requests FEMA assistance and suggested that maybe I should call the Governor’s Office.

Sure, why not?

To no one’s surprise, my husband has the Governor’s office phone number memorized. He reeled it off and I dialed.  The lady who answered the phone listened to my question and said that I should speak with Carla Arnold in Constituent Services. She transferred me to Carla’s line. Since it was after hours eastern time, I left Carla a detailed, but probably incoherent, message asking why Ballard, Carlisle and Fulton didn’t make the disaster list.

Carla drain, floods, tornadoes make this 4th worst disaster idn’t call me back, but Buddy Rogers, the spokesman for the Kentucky Division of Emergency Management, did.

I had already left for the day (since Channel 6 was predicting the “BIG ONE” was going to hit and we should get our affairs in order ASAP).

Buddy’s message on my answering machine (actually not a machine but an AT &T service) said he heard from Vicky somebody that I was looking for information about FEMA and disaster assistance. He left his cell number for me to call back.

Oh. Okay.

To make a very long story less long, I called him back and he called me back and finally we were in the same moment at the same moment.

Buddy said that seventy one Kentucky counties had asked for disaster relief. Sixty nine of those have already been approved for public disaster relief – that goes to local government, road repair, infrastructure damage and nonprofit assistance and such. Others are in the pipeline to be evaluated.

FEMA teams that evaluate loss are stretched thin because this is, according to Buddy, the fourth largest disaster in modern history (I hope he just meant for Kentucky, not for the world). 

Getting relief for private citizens is more complicated. (See the FEMA guy’s criteria above.) It takes some time to get in and assess the totality of the disaster county by county.

Buddy wasn’t sure when Ballard, Carlisle and Fulton would be on the DUA list, but he didn’t say they had lost out, either. If at first a county doesn’t succeed, they can try again and if they still aren’t approved, there’s an appeals process.

He pointed me to the home page of his agency which has a link that explains the process of getting help after a disaster. That page leads to another page with more information: see  http://kyem.ky.gov/aprilsevereweather.htm and then http://www.fema.gov/news/event.fema?id=14332

Postscript:  Governor Beshear’s office just issued a press release announcing money to eliminate illegal dumps in 26 flooded counties. Ballard, Carlisle and Fulton made that list. 

That’s something.


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