FRANKFORT, KY (WOWK) – Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear is set to give a Team Kentucky press briefing on COVID-19 and the deadly tornadoes that ripped through the western part of the state earlier this month.
On Wednesday, Dec. 22, the governor’s office announced a new website to help those impacted by the tornadoes and severe weather that hit on the night of Friday, Dec. 10 and into the morning of Saturday, Dec. 11 find the assistance they need.
Beshear’s office says the website lists information for multiple state government assistance programs as well as information on how to apply for unemployment, healthcare coverage, food assistance, long-term housing and even a replacement driver’s license. The website also has information on how to submit a FEMA claim and where to find temporary researches such as temporary shelter, hot meals and relief hotlines.
According to the governor, at least 11,400 validated registrants have signed up for assistance and 11,600 insurance claims have been filed.
State officials urge those in need of assistance in counties approved for disaster funding to apply at DisasterAssistance.gov, by calling 800-621-3362 or TTY 800-462-7585, or by downloading the FEMA App.
The state has also started the Team Western Kentucky Tornado Relief Fund for those impacted. Those who want to donate to that fund can visit TeamWKYReliefFund.ky.gov. Beshear says the state will work to make sure these funds are available to support Kentuckians for the long-term recovery from the disaster.
The governor says the Team Western Kentucky Tornado Relief Fund has already received more than $30 million in donations and will be used to help cover expenses not covered by FEMA. Beshear also says the Fund has also helped pay for 39 funerals of tornado victims.
“This fund is for the long haul. We’ve got a lot of great organizations on the ground, and they’re going to have to be on the gorund in other places in the immediate aftermath. But rebuilding these homes and structures and lives is going to take years, and we’ve got to make sure when support is needed down the road, it’s there and we can deploy it quickly to help these families,” Besehar said.
Beshear also says the state has not gotten Disaster SNAP benefits approved yet, but he adds the process is moving faster than they’ve “ever seen.” Beshear says more information on food assistance programs is available on the new website.
Kentucky First Lady Britainy Beshear says the Team Western Kentucky Christmas Toy Drive was a success and there were more than enough gifts for all the families that reached out for help. The first lady says she is grateful for the volunteers who made distributing the toys possible.
“The true value of this initiative can’t be measured in a dollar amount,” the first lady said. “Because of you, we reached every single family who contacted us before the end of the toy drive to ask Santa for a little extra help this year. We even helped some additional families on Christmas Eve itself after the drive ended. None of that would have been possible without the tireless work of our volunteers. From the bottom of my heart, I want to thank all of our volunteers.”
She also says because of the overwhelming amount of generosity that made the toy drive a success, there are enough gifts and donations left over from the toy drive to help families with birthday gifts for their children.