Governor's Office of Minority Empowerment
President Obama grants Governor Beshear’s request for a major disaster declaration for Kentucky

Press Release Date:  Thursday, February 05, 2009  
Contact Information:  Delquan Dorsey, Executive Director, Governor's Office of Minority Empowerment
(502) 564-2611 ext.467

FRANKFORT, Ky. (Feb. 5, 2009)—Gov. Steve Beshear today received word from the White House that President Barack Obama has granted the governor’s request for a major disaster declaration for the commonwealth of Kentucky, following the devastating winter storm that has paralyzed parts of the state and left hundreds of thousands of  Kentuckians without electricity, water and heat.

On Monday Feb. 2, Gov. Beshear sent a request to President Obama asking the federal government to pick up additional costs incurred for the use of an unprecedented number of National Guardsmen and storm costs that already have exceeded an estimated $61 million and are expected to continue to climb as state and local governments tally their costs.

Acting FEMA Administrator Nancy Ward has been in Kentucky since Wednesday surveying damages and assessing storm recovery efforts. U.S. Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano is expected to visit the commonwealth sometime next week.

Under a major disaster declaration, the federal government typically reimburses 75 percent of local and state governmental expenditures on a range of items, such as overtime for workers, debris removal equipment and the local purchase of generators, among other things. Gov. Beshear requested the federal government pick up 100 percent of the costs for expenses incurred during the first seven days of the storm. According to FEMA, the governor’s request for 100 percent reimbursement is still under consideration at this time, but the major disaster declaration granted today by the President clears the way for reimbursement of expenses already incurred by state and local government for debris removal and storm recovery efforts at the 75 percent rate. If 100 percent reimbursement is subsequently approved, those reimbursements will be amended.

“I appreciate President Obama’s quick response to our request for a major disaster declaration following this devastating storm,” Gov. Beshear said. “This quick action allows state and local governments to recover significant expenditures they have incurred in response to the storm. I will continue to pursue 100 percent reimbursement for the seven days following storm and I’m hopeful that we will receive approval for this as well.”

According to information received from the White House, federal funding is available to commonwealth and eligible local governments and certain private nonprofit organizations on a cost-sharing basis in the counties of Allen, Anderson, Ballard, Barren, Bath, Bourbon, Boyd, Boyle, Breathitt, Breckinridge, Bracken, Bullitt, Butler, Caldwell, Calloway, Campbell, Carlisle, Carroll, Carter, Christian, Clark, Clay, Crittenden, Daviess, Edmonson, Elliott, Estill, Fayette, Fleming, Floyd, Franklin, Fulton, Garrard, Grant, Graves, Grayson, Green, Greenup, Hardin, Harrison, Hart, Henderson, Hickman, Hopkins, Jackson, Jefferson, Jessamine, Johnson, Larue, Lawrence, Lee, Lewis, Lincoln, Livingston, Logan, Lyon, Madison, Magoffin, Marion, Marshall, Martin, Mason, McCracken, McLean, Meade, Menifee, Mercer, Metcalfe, Montgomery, Morgan, Muhlenberg, Nelson, Nicholas, Ohio, Oldham, Owen, Owsley, Perry, Powell, Pendleton, Robertson, Rockcastle, Rowan, Scott, Shelby, Spencer, Todd, Trigg, Union, Warren, Washington, Webster, and Woodford for debris removal and emergency protective measures, including direct Federal assistance.

FEMA said that damage surveys are continuing in other areas, and additional counties may be designated for assistance after the assessments are fully completed.

On Wednesday, Jan. 28, President Obama granted Gov. Beshear’s initial request for an emergency declaration—the same day it was requested. The declaration paved the way for immediate federal recovery efforts.

Thus far, 101 counties and 78 cities have declared emergencies. As of today, 29 storm-related fatalities have occurred in multiple counties across the state. Approximately 157,000 Kentucky customers remain without power.

Today President Obama also approved Gov. Beshear’s Feb. 2 request for federal funding on a cost-sharing basis for hazard mitigation measures for the entire commonwealth. Kentucky has an enhanced State Mitigation Plan, which was approved on June 16, 2008. The commonwealth may request individual assistance from the federal government at a future date.