Updates provided on tornado assistance, relief funds, other issues
Beshear holds weekly Thursday press update
FRANKFORT, Ky. (WTVQ) – Gov. Andy Beshear updated Kentuckians on disaster recovery Thursday, his budget’s proposal to fund universal pre-K, employment statistics, economic development, COVID-19 and a new regional hydrogen hub workgroup. He also signed a proclamation declaring Joe B. Hall Day in the commonwealth.
Updates on FEMA Awards and Team Western Kentucky Relief Fund
Gov. Beshear announced that the state will add 20% on top of what the Federal Emergency Management Agency awards in individual assistance for uninsured homeowners and renters impacted by the storms.
Approximately $1.4 million from the Team Western Kentucky Tornado Relief Fund will go to more than 1,400 Kentuckians who are registered and qualify for FEMA benefits.
“This is a way we can quickly and clearly identify individuals who qualify for assistance and get the money out the door,” said Gov. Beshear.
Checks should go out within the next two weeks. The number of Kentuckians who are eligible to receive FEMA benefits and the extra 20% includes at least 475 uninsured homeowners and 987 uninsured renters.
The Governor said if Kentuckians haven’t signed up yet for individual assistance through FEMA and think they may qualify, they should apply now. The final deadline to apply is Feb. 11.
Applying for help is free and can be done online at DisasterAssistance.gov, by calling 800-621-3362, or by using the FEMA mobile app. If you use a relay service, such as video relay service, captioned telephone service or others, give FEMA the number for that service. Lines are open from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. local time, seven days a week.
The Governor added that the fund has now paid every family that has lost a loved one to the tornadoes – 77 Kentuckians – to cover funeral expenses.
U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Signs Disaster Designation for 15 Kentucky Counties
Lt. Gov. Jacqueline Coleman announced U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack has signed a Secretarial Disaster Designation for the following counties: Adair, Allen, Barren, Butler, Casey, Edmonson, Grayson, Green, Hart, Larue, Logan, Marion, Simpson, Taylor and Warren.
The Secretarial Disaster Designation will expand resources available for agriculture producers in these counties as they rebuild operations.
As of Tuesday, the U.S. Department of Agriculture has released a new program for farmers to rebuild and repair permanent fencing through the Emergency Conservation Program at the Farm Service Agency. Lt. Gov. Coleman thanked Dean Schamore, Kentucky’s new USDA FSA state director, and Secretary Vilsack for their support.
FEMA Mobile Disaster Recovery Centers
Disaster Recovery Centers and Mobile Registration Intake Centers provide one-on-one help with the FEMA application process.
Since Dec. 12, FEMA and the Commonwealth have operated 18 Disaster Recovery Centers in the affected areas of Western Kentucky. The expected schedules for six mobile recovery centers. To find the latest information on Disaster Recovery Centers, visit fema.gov/drc or call the FEMA Helpline at 800-621-3362.
COVID-19 Case Information, Vaccinations Update
Number of people who have received at least one vaccine dose in Kentucky: 2,833,323
Number of people who have received a booster vaccination in Kentucky: 980,565
Average positivity rate for week ending Jan. 16: 29.33%
The Governor reminded Kentuckians they can order four at-home COVID-19 tests per household at COVIDtests.gov, as President Joe Biden announced this week.
Lt. Gov. Coleman Outlines Benefits of Universal Pre-K
Lt. Gov. Coleman said universal pre-K, which the Governor’s budget funds for all 4-year-olds, would provide a strong foundation for Kentucky’s youngest learners, ensure significant cost savings for families promote immediate and long-term academic success and boost our workforce in the short-term and long-term.
“Only about 30% of 4-year-olds in Kentucky are enrolled in preschool. That means up to 70% of our kids are behind before they walk in the door on their first day of kindergarten,” said Lt. Gov. Coleman. “By funding pre-K for every 4-year-old in the state, we are ensuring a child’s ZIP code or socioeconomic status does not predetermine their educational outcomes.”
Unemployment Decreases, Employment Increases in December 2021
The Governor said Kentucky’s seasonally adjusted preliminary December 2021 unemployment rate was 3.9%, according to the Kentucky Center for Statistics, down 0.2 percentage points from the 4.1% reported in November 2021 and down 1.7 percentage points from the 5.6% recorded for the state one year ago.
The U.S. seasonally adjusted jobless rate for December 2021 was 3.9%, down from the 4.2% reported in November 2021, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. The number of people employed in December increased by 8,105, to 1,923,807, while the number of unemployed decreased by 2,854 to 78,817.
Kentucky Regional Hydrogen Hub Workgroup Launched
Gov. Beshear and Kentucky Energy and Environment Cabinet Secretary Rebecca Goodman announced the formation of Kentucky’s Regional Hydrogen Hub Workgroup.
The primary purpose of the workgroup will be to develop projects eligible for funding under the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Creation Act of 2021. Workgroup stakeholders will consist of academic institutions, individuals, organizations, and business focused on hydrogen production, transportation, delivery, and end use utilization opportunities. To learn more, see the full release.