The winter storms prompted Gov. Andy Beshear on Feb. 11 to issue a state of emergency order. Fifty-nine counties and 38 cities also issued local states of emergency.
The systems produced heavy rain, hail, sleet, freezing rain, ice and bitter arctic air which caused impassable roadways, massive power outages, water system failures, landslides, mudslides and disruption of critical government services.
The ice storm alone left 154,500 Kentucky homes without power at the height of the event. There were four confirmed deaths attributed to the weather system. The Kentucky National Guard was activated with 90 personnel assisting with the clearing of roadways, evacuating at-risk citizens and conducting wellness checks.
“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 stated. “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.”
The federal funding is available to the state, to eligible local governments and to certain private nonprofit organizations on a cost-sharing basis for emergency work and the repair or replacement of facilities. Federal funding is also available on a cost-sharing basis for 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. Damages assessed by state, local and federal representatives are projected to exceed $30 million. A request for additional counties may follow as damage assessments are ongoing.
“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.”
FEMA’s Public Assistance Program will provide funding to eligible applicants for allowable costs associated with debris removal, emergency protective actions and restoration of impacted infrastructure.
In addition, all parts of the state are eligible for assistance under the Hazard Mitigation Grant Program, which provides aid for action to prevent or reduce long-term risk to life and property from natural hazards.
Meanwhile, work continues on a likely second major disaster declaration request, due to the late February record flooding across Kentucky. FEMA has completed damage assessments of over 2,100 homes examining requests for federal support of individual assistance, and is in the last phase of reviewing damage assessments for impacts to over 40 county infrastructures.
Gov. Beshear will submit an application for that second federal disaster declaration, immediately upon learning of completion of the findings.
Residents with questions or who have additional reports of flood damage should contact their local county emergency management agency.