Biden orders federal assistance for Kentucky’s $30 million storm recovery effort


President Joe Biden delivers a speech on infrastructure spending at Carpenters Pittsburgh Training Center, Wednesday, March 31, 2021, in Pittsburgh. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

FRANKFORT, KY (WOWK)—President Joe Biden approved Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear’s request for a major disaster declaration from the federal government on Wednesday. The president ordered federal assistance for areas of Kentucky as they recover from devastating winter storms that occurred between February 8 and February 19. A full copy of the declaration can be read here.

“This declaration will make sure Kentuckians and our communities have the necessary resources to rebuild after the devastating ice storm that hit in February,” Gov. Beshear said. “Thank you to President Biden and FEMA for their assistance, and thank you to the many state and local agencies and organizations who are leading the recovery and rebuilding efforts in our hard-hit communities.”

Governor Beshear issued a State of Emergency Order on February 11, and 59 counties and 38 cities followed suit with their own local emergency orders. Mid-February brought heavy rain, hail, sleet, freezing rain, ice, and bitter cold, which in turn led to impassable roadways, power outages, water system failures, landslides, mudslides, and disruption of government services.

154,500 homes in the commonwealth were left without power, and four people were confirmed to have died as a direct result of the weather and outages. The Kentucky National Guard needed to be activated so 90 personnel could assist in the clearing of roadways, evacuations, and wellness checks.

The federal assistance will supplement recovery efforts by the commonwealth of Kentucky and its local communities that were affected by the severe weather. This includes federal funding for the commonwealth, local governments, and certain private nonprofit organizations on a cost-sharing basis for emergency work, repairs or replacement of facilities, or hazard-mitigation measures.

The federal Disaster Declaration includes public assistance for the counties of Bath, Boyd, Boyle, Breathitt, Carter, Casey, Clark, Clay, Clinton, Elliott, Estill, Fleming, Floyd, Garrard, Greenup, Harlan, Jackson, Johnson, Laurel, Lawrence, Lee, Leslie, Lewis, Lincoln, Madison, Magoffin, Marion, Martin, McCreary, Menifee, Mercer, Morgan, Montgomery, Nicholas, Nelson, Owsley, Perry, Powell, Pulaski, Rockcastle, Rowan, Wayne, Whitley and Wolfe. 

The state, local, and federal governments will assess damages, which are projected to exceed $30 million, and additional counties may need to be added as representatives continue their assessments.

“We appreciate President Biden’s timely award of a major disaster declaration, in response to Gov. Beshear’s request of March 19,” said Michael Dossett, director of Kentucky Emergency Management. “With the federal assistance, our counties and power utilities will be able to repair the catastrophic damages to our electrical infrastructure as a result of the February severe weather and ice storm event.”

Funding to eligible applicants for costs associated with debris removal, emergency protective actions, and restoration of impacted infrastructure will be provided by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Public Assistance Program.

The Hazard Mitigation Grant Program will also profide assistance to all areas of the commonwealth for actions taken to prevent or reduce long-term risk to life and property from natural hazards.

FEMA completed a separate assessment of over 2,100 homes that requested federal support after the incidence of record flooding across Kentucky. The agency is in its last phase of reviewing damage assessments for over 40 county infrastructures. Governor Beshear says that as soon as FEMA completes its findings in this matter, he will submit an application for a second federal disaster declaration.

Kentucky residentes with questions or damage reports should contact their local emergency management agency.

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