President Donald J. Trump approved a federal disaster declaration Wednesday for 57 Kentucky counties – including: Whitley, Knox, Laurel, McCreary and Bell – which were affected by severe storms, straight-line winds, flooding, landslides, and mudslides from Feb. 6 – March 10 of this year.
“Today, President Donald J. Trump declared that a major disaster exists in the Commonwealth of Kentucky and ordered federal assistance to supplement Commonwealth and local recovery efforts in the areas,” a White House release stated.
Federal funding is available to Commonwealth and eligible local governments and certain private nonprofit organizations on a cost-sharing basis for emergency work and the repair or replacement of facilities damaged in the additional counties of Adair, Ballard, Boyd, Breathitt, Butler, Campbell, Carlisle, Carroll, Carter, Casey, Clay, Crittenden, Cumberland, Edmonson, Elliott, Estill, Floyd, Grant, Greenup, Hancock, Harlan, Henderson, Henry, Jackson, Johnson, Knott, Lawrence, Lee, Leslie, Letcher, Livingston, Madison, Magoffin, Marion, Marshall, Martin, McCracken, Metcalfe, Morgan, Owsley, Pendleton, Perry, Pike, Powell, Rockcastle, Russell, Trigg, Union, Washington, Wayne, Webster and Wolfe.
Federal funding is also available on a cost-sharing basis for hazard mitigation measures for the entire Commonwealth.
Additional designations may be made at a later date if requested by the Commonwealth and warranted by the results of further damage assessments.
Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin requested the Presidential Disaster Declaration on April 9.
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 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.
Since 2009, Kentucky has been granted 19 federally declared disasters as a result of severe weather and flooding events.