Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin is seeking a Presidential Disaster Declaration for severe weather damage from February and March that impacted 58 Kentucky counties, including Whitley, Laurel, Knox, Bell and McCreary counties.
The system produced extended episodes of strong winds and torrential rain which caused flooding, flash flooding, landslides, and mudslides.
The weather system caused over $41 million in damages statewide, the majority of that related to highways, bridges, and utility infrastructure. A total of three Kentuckians lost their lives during this event, along with many minor injuries.
Whitley County Projects Director Amber Owens said Tuesday that the county did preliminary assessments for the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), and the Kentucky Emergency Management Agency (KYEM) in March, which calculated nearly $500,000 in damage to roadways.
The county’s numbers are a mixture of work already completed by the road department right after the flooding event and projects that will require a permanent fix to repair the roadway, Owens noted.
This estimate doesn’t include work that the state department of highways did to repair state roads in Whitley County. Owens said that she doesn’t know what the state calculated that damage to be.
During the flooding in late February, at least 10 Whitley County roads broke off or slipped off and another four roads had landslides on them, Whitley County Emergency Management Director Danny Moses said previously.
The Cumberland River in Williamsburg crested at 28.57 feet, which is the 22nd highest river crest in Williamsburg since 1886, according to the National Weather Service.
The Cumberland River is considered to be a flood stage in Williamsburg at 21 feet. Moderate flood stage is 27.5 feet and major flood stage is at 32 feet.
Bevin sent the letter last week to President Donald Trump seeking the disaster declaration.
“This requested Presidential Disaster Declaration will provide nearly one half of Kentucky’s counties with federal assistance as they recover from widespread severe storms and flooding in recent weeks,” Bevin said in a release. “The resiliency of the Commonwealth’s communities is truly inspiring, and our hope is that this Declaration request will yield much-needed resources to assist local governments across the state in recovery efforts.”
“The Commonwealth has again been on the receiving end of another major flooding event,” said Kentucky Emergency Management (KYEM) director Michael Dossett. “We are hopeful for federal assistance to our cities and counties in their efforts to repair and restore infrastructure for our Commonwealth’s communities.”
The following other counties are also included in this request: Ballard, Boyd, Breathitt, Butler, Campbell, Carlisle, Carroll, Carter, Clay, Clinton, Crittenden, Cumberland, Edmonson, Elliott, Estill, Floyd, Fulton, Grant, Hancock, Harlan, Henderson, Henry, Hickman, Jackson, Johnson, Knott, Lawrence, Lee, Leslie, Letcher, Livingston, Lyon, Madison, Magoffin, Marshall, Martin, McCracken, Metcalfe, Monroe, Morgan, Owsley, Pendleton, Perry, Pike, Powell, Rockcastle, Russell, Simpson, Trigg, Union, Wayne, Webster, and Wolfe.
Since 2009, Kentucky has been granted 19 federally declared disasters as a result of severe weather and flooding events.