FRANKFORT, Ky. (Sept. 19, 2008) - Gov. Steve Beshear Friday announced that he is requesting a Presidential Disaster Declaration to help recover costs for public damages suffered in some 70 counties and cities across the commonwealth.
"This declaration is necessary to clear the way for federal reimbursement for work done by the state and local governments across the Commonwealth to clean up and make repairs in the aftermath of this horrific storm," Gov. Beshear said at a news conference this morning with Louisville Mayor Jerry Abramson and Congressman John Yarmuth.
As of this morning, Gov. Beshear said 29 counties and more than 41 towns and cities had declared a state of emergency following a windstorm Sunday night that carried hurricane-force winds across much of Kentucky. At its worst, more than 500,000 Kentuckians were without power this week and some 3,000 people at one time lacked clean drinking water.
The event represents the worst storm on record in Kentucky. The number of people without power has been cut by more than half since Sunday night, although some 135,305 customers still lack power as of Friday morning.
Beshear said the federal disaster declaration, if granted, will allow reimbursement for up to 75 percent of the costs expended for debris removal, emergency protective measures and repairs of other public infrastructure damaged during the storm. The federal government requires a threshold of $5 million in public damages to qualify for the declaration. State and local governments must each fund 12.5 percent of the costs incurred.
"Almost immediately, our disaster relief and emergency management officials began working with county and local officials across Kentucky to make disaster assessments in each impacted community," Gov. Beshear said. "With a storm that impacted broad swaths of our state, and in varying ways, gathering these damage assessments has been an arduous task. I want to applaud the work of our emergency management officials, along with their counterparts at the local level, for the tremendous work they have done to gather this information as quickly as possible."
In Louisville alone, some 200 National Guardsmen were deployed to supplement security and cleanup efforts in the state's largest city. Shelters were opened in three counties and backup generators were provided to communities where water supply issues emerged.