Ky. congressional delegation urges Biden to approve disaster request

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FRANKFORT, Ky. (KT) – All eight members of Kentucky’s congressional delegation have sent a joint letter to President Joe Biden asking him to approve Gov. Andy Beshear’s request on Wednesday for a second major disaster declaration in the state.


This comes only a week after the president approved a major disaster declaration allowing for emergency federal aid in response to the deadly winter snow and ice storms that killed five people and impacted 44 counties earlier in February. Kentucky’s congressional delegation urged the president‘s quick response in that request from the governor as well.


In this second disaster, between Feb. 26 and March 1, Kentucky experienced more than seven inches of rain in parts of the state, which resulted in historic flooding on the Green, Kentucky, Licking, Ohio, Red and Mississippi rivers. It left behind widespread damage in nine counties. 


According to the governor’s request, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, or FEMA, conducted joint damage assessments in Breathitt, Clay, Estill, Floyd, Johnson, Lee, Magoffin, Martin and Powell counties. The governor is requesting these counties receive public and individual assistance.


In the letter the lawmakers sent to the president, they noted, “Approximately 2,100 homes were destroyed or heavily impacted, while many schools and small businesses endured significant damage as a result of the sustained flooding, displacing numerous families, business owners, and even residents of nursing homes. Many parts of Kentucky were also without clean drinking water for several days and thousands experienced extended power outages. Raised water levels put immense pressure on critical infrastructure, such as dams, temporarily endangering even more residents.”


The delegation says, “Local emergency management crews, trained volunteers, and the Kentucky National Guard responded to emergency calls for water rescues in several counties, bravely saving countless lives across the Commonwealth. After flood waters receded, revealing the heartbreaking damage left behind, generous donations and supplies poured into our state in support of emergency flood relief efforts. However, it is abundantly clear that federal support is gravely necessary to repair roads, water lines, government buildings, and to help individuals who lost nearly everything.” 


The double whammy of both severe winter snow and ice, followed by record flooding, has strained the state’s ability to deal with them, causing the federal delegation to state, “These recent and relentless severe weather events devastated the Commonwealth and its communities. For this reason, we urge you to also approve the requests for both public and individual assistance for those Kentuckians hit hardest by these weather disasters.”


According to the governor’s request, as of March 30, FEMA has verified in excess of $30 million in public assistance damages. The state threshold for requesting a declaration is $6.7 million.


There is no timetable on a response to the request, however, it took about two weeks for President Biden to approve the first disaster declaration.


All six of Kentucky’s congressmen and the two U.S. senators signed on to the letter.

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