Obama Declares Disaster In Kentucky

by Rick Howlett on January 29, 2009

President Barack Obama has granted Kentucky’s Governor Steve Beshear’s request for a federal disaster declaration in the wake of this week’s winter storm.

Here’s the press release from the governor’s office:



President Obama approves Governor Beshear’s request for federal disaster declaration to speed relief

Beshear, Conway implement price gouging statues to protect Kentuckians

FRANKFORT, Ky. (Jan. 29, 2009) –

President Barack Obama last night approved Gov. Steve Beshear’s request for an emergency Presidential Disaster Declaration that will expedite assistance to people in need across the commonwealth.

“President Obama called me last night to express his concern about the plight facing our state and many of our people. I appreciate the president’s quick response to our request for a disaster declaration,” Gov. Beshear said as he traveled throughout Western Kentucky to meet with local officials and survey damage to the region. “We will move quickly to bring power generators, communications equipment and debris removal equipment into the region to help restore power and protect our people in their time of need.”

As of Thursday morning, nearly 600,000 customers across Kentucky were without power, a number that was expected to grow in the aftermath of the icy winter storm that walloped much of the state Monday and Tuesday. There were also three fatalities linked to the storms.

This week’s storm marks the second largest power outage in the state’s history. The only larger outage occurred six months ago in the wake of Hurricane Ike when 600,000 customers lost power. With this storm – and with Hurricane Ike six months ago – Kentucky has now had the two largest outages in the commonwealth’s history.

As of last night, 68 counties had declared emergencies and 36 cities had declared an emergency as well. In addition, 91 shelters have been opened statewide, Gov. Beshear said.

“It is just astounding that we would have two such widespread, yet very different, disasters within the span of six months,” Gov. Beshear said. “But, while I am urging folks to be patient as we work to restore power and services, I want them to know that their state government is doing everything possible to ensure their safety and well being during this disaster.”

Other actions being taken include:

· Some 500 National Guardsmen have been activated across the state to help with relief efforts. Gov. Beshear also has approved the use of two Blackhawk helicopters to assist the state’s largest utility, Kentucky Utilities, with surveying damaged areas and locating downed and damaged transmission lines throughout the state.

· A request for joint public disaster assistance that will allow state and federal officials to work together to simultaneously gather damage assessments in communities to expedite reimbursement from the federal government.

“Because this situation is so dire, involving ice and freezing cold conditions, we are asking for a joint declaration to try to speed the process of reimbursement,” Gov. Beshear said.

· Gov. Beshear, along with Attorney General Jack Conway, has triggered the state’s price gouging statutes to investigate any complaints of price gouging that may occur relative to gas, heating and building supplies in the aftermath of the storm. The same statutes were triggered during the aftermath of Hurricane Ike. General Conway encourages anyone with specific information regarding possible price gouging to contact the Office of the Attorney General at 1-888-432-9257 or to email icestormcomplaints@ag.ky.gov. He also encourages Kentuckians to stay safe.

· Transportation crews were working in 105 of Kentucky’s 120 counties to unblock and treat roads. As part of the governor’s state emergency order, bucket trucks are being allowed to bypass weigh stations on the interstates to expedite their help in restoring power during the crisis.

Comments Closed


Samantha Bouza January 30, 2009 at 2:43 pm

Why is taking so long to get help? My sister lives in KY and she and 3 daughters have been without electricity and heat for almost a week now. She said there are no stores open to buy food and no refridge to put it in. What is worse, she is not as bad off as what she has been hearing about people suffering in the area. How many US citizens have to die before something is done. The deaths already reported could have been avoided if we would have reacted when we should have.

Flo, Denver February 1, 2009 at 8:47 pm


I am sorry for the situation your sister and her 3 daughters find themselves in.

At one point I also found myself in a wintery situation with running (cold) water, no heat, no electricty and two young boys to care for. The area where I live had run numerous public advice announcements on how to prepare for the unexpected. Having listened and realizing my boys were depending on me no matter what hit us, I had sleeping bags, canned and dehydrated food on hand, plus candles, and battery operated radios. We “camped out” in our livingroom like this for almost three weeks, until the electricty could be restored. It wasn’t fun but we were able to manage without going to a local shelter.

Everyone should have a minimum of two-weeks worth of food, water, extra clothing, battery operated radio (with extra batteries), candles for light, sleeping bags, and specialized items for personal health. This gives emergency services time to gear up and get to you to offer help.

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