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Gov. Beshear announces $500,000 in grants for qualifying counties after flooding

It was announced Tuesday by Gov. Andy Beshear and Energy and Environment Cabinet Secretary Rebecca Goodman that a total of $500,000 in grant funding is available to qualifying counties for flood debris cleanup.

Bell County is included in those qualifying counties and will be eligible for up to $50,000 to cover the cost of collecting, transporting and disposing of municipal solid waste that is a result from the recent flooding in the area.

“We appreciate the governor’s continued attention and support for our area in these most difficult times,” Bell County Judge-Executive Albey Brock said. “Hopefully, this grant will help offset the cost incurred by the local 109 board, cities and county for proper disposal of various forms of solid waste created by the recent flooding.”

On Feb. 6, Brock declared a State of Emergency for Bell County as he, Pineville Mayor Scott Madon and Middlesboro Mayor Rick Nelson got to work developing plans to keep their communities safe.

Gov. Beshear declared a state of emergency the following day and deployed state resources as he visited areas hardest hit by the rains.

“I am pleased to make this money available and stand with communities as they recover from recent flooding,” he said. “I encourage everyone doing clean-up to be safe and to help the environment by properly disposing of all debris.”

Kentuckians impacted by recent flooding are urged to be safe and environmentally conscious when cleaning and disposing of material. Potential hazards include asbestos, mold and toxic chemicals.

“Please use caution when handling different types of debris,” Cabinet Secretary Goodman said. “And be aware that material that is improperly disposed of can have a lasting impact on the environment.”

Funding for the cleanup comes from the Kentucky Pride Fund, through a $1.75 environmental remediation fee for each ton of garbage disposed of at Kentucky municipal solid waste disposal facilities. The Kentucky Division of Waste Management administers the fund.

The grants will be made available for the 12 counties that have received a state of emergency declaration from the governor: Bell, Clay, Harlan, Hickman, Knox, Lawrence, Leslie, Letcher, McCreary, Metcalfe, Perry and Whitley. Counties will be eligible for up to $50,000 each to cover the cost of collecting, transporting and disposing of municipal solid waste resulting from the flood event.

Gov. Beshear and state and local leaders provided an update on the emergency management and relief response to flooding events in Southeastern Kentucky during a Thursday briefing at the London Joint Readiness Center. They also assessed impacted areas by helicopter.

Storm debris handling guidance and additional resources can be found on the EEC website. Information also is available regarding the disposal of items such as livestock carcasses, 55-gallon drums or tanks, and for the cleanup of waterways. Please note that the preferred method for managing woody or vegetative debris is by composting, shredding or chipping for reuse as mulch.

Kentuckians should contact their local solid waste coordinator to learn if debris will be picked up curbside or if debris must be taken to a designated location.

Kentucky restricts open burning. Burning is permitted only in limited circumstances and under specific conditions. The burning of household trash other than uncoated paper products is illegal year-round.