Biden Approves Major Disaster Declaration for Kentucky After Winter Storms

KENTUCKY — President Joe Biden has approved Gov. Andy Beshear’s request for a major disaster declaration from the federal government. The president approved the request late Wednesday and ordered federal assistance to support Kentucky communities recover from recent winter storms.


What You Need To Know

  • President Joe Biden has approved Gov. Andy Beshear’s request for a major disaster declaration 
  • Biden  ordered federal assistance to support Kentucky communities recover from recent winter storms
  • Beshear requested assistance on March 19 after severe winter storms rolled through Kentucky
  • Federal funding is available to the Commonwealth, eligible local governments, and to certain private nonprofit organizations on a cost-sharing basis for emergency work and the repair or replacement of facilities

“This declaration will make sure Kentuckians and our communities have the necessary resources to rebuild after the devastating ice storm that hit in February,” 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.”

Beshear requested assistance on March 19 after severe winter storms rolled through Kentucky from Feb. 8 through Feb. 19, 2021. On Feb. 11, 2021, the governor issued a State of Emergency order while 59 counties and 38 cities also issued local states of emergency.

Federal funding is available to the Commonwealth, 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.

Heavy rain, hail, sleet, freezing rain, ice, and bitter air arrived in Kentucky, causing impassable roadways, power outages, water system failures, landslides, mudslides, and more.

According to a release from the governor’s office, the ice storm produced from the system left 154,500 Kentucky homes without power at the height of the event, and four confirmed casualties were attributed to the event. 

The Kentucky National Guard was activated and assisted with the clearing of roadways, evacuating at-risk citizens, and conducting wellness checks.

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 expected to exceed $30 million, and a request for additional counties may follow as damage assessments continue.

“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.”

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Public Assistance Program will provide funding to eligible applicants for allowable costs associated with debris removal, emergency protective actions, and restoration of impacted infrastructure.

All areas of Kentucky are eligible for assistance under the Hazard Mitigation Grant Program, which helps with actions taken to prevent or reduce long-term risk to life and property from natural hazards.

Following historic flooding in some parts of Kentucky, FEMA completed damage assessments of over 2,100 homes examining requests for federal support of individual assistance. FEMA is in the last phase of reviewing damage assessments for impacts to over 40 county infrastructures. Beshear will apply for a second federal disaster declaration immediately after learning of the completion of the findings.

Residents with questions or additional reports of flood damage should contact their local county emergency management agency.


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