NEON, Ky. (WJHL) – On Monday, President Joe Biden visited Eastern Kentucky to survey the damage left in the wake of floods that claimed the lives of at least 37 people.
But while the president’s visit may be wrapping up Monday, the path ahead for areas like Letcher County is a long one. Places like schools and community centers have transformed into relief areas just to make sure residents have basic needs met.
In Neon, Fleming-Neon Middle School has become a distribution site for the town, which received heavy damage.
“We’re running a medical clinic and trying to help people sign up with FEMA,” said coordinator Bonita Robinson. “We’re also coordinating ATV efforts out in the community, so they’re coming here.”
Coordinators like Robinson have sent out 30 SUVs loaded with supplies into Neon.
“We covered about 500 families, and we were able to make sure – we went to the very ends of the hollers and worked our way down to be sure we found people,” Robinson said. “Living in trees, in their vehicles, under the porches, that the hollers were washed out and nobody had been able to get to them yet.”
As the community of Neon works to just make sure they survive, city officials are championing efforts to get FEMA involved. Fleming-Neon Mayor Susan Polis took assessors to city-owned property Monday in an attempt to secure assistance.
“That helps us get our FEMA money and things in here to rebuild our city,” Polis said.
While an exact timetable is not certain, the process to receive FEMA assistance is expected to take some time.
“We can’t speed their process up, but we hope it won’t be as long as what we’ve heard or what people are thinking,” Polis said. “But I’m talking to them every day.”
Polis told News Channel 11 that it is difficult to know what is next for Neon; however, her first goal is to remove the debris so city officials can best determine how to rebuild.