Beshear Declares Emergency Following Deadly Storms

by Rick Howlett on May 3, 2010

The heavy rains and flash floods that inundated much of the commonwealth over the weekend have prompted Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear to declare a state of emergency.   

Beshear held a press conference Monday afternoon to discuss the disaster.    

Click here to hear the governor’s remarks.

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

FRANKFORT, Ky. (May 3, 2010)—Governor Steve Beshear today confirmed at the Commonwealth Emergency Operations Center (CEOC) the issuance of an executive order, effective May 1, 2010 declaring a state of emergency in response to the severe storms and flooding that hit the Commonwealth over the weekend.  There have been four confirmed deaths attributed to this latest storm system in Madison, Barren, Allen and Lincoln counties.  Forty-one counties and 15 cities have issued emergency declarations either in writing or verbally. These numbers are likely to increase as recovery efforts continue. 

“The safety of our citizens is my first priority,” said Gov. Beshear.  “That is why I urge individuals who encounter high waters to use extreme caution and avoid unnecessary contact with flood waters if at all possible. Our thoughts are especially with those who lost loved ones in the tragic deaths that have been attributed to the weekend’s storms.”

The declaration of emergency issued by Gov. Beshear provides that:

  • The Division of Emergency Management operate the response and relief activities for the State, and the Division is authorized to request needed federal assistance and consult with the American National Red Cross and local officials on the need for emergency shelters
  • The Adjutant General may issue active duty orders for the mobilization of needed National Guard personnel and equipment
  • The Finance and Administration Cabinet is directed to fund the urgent operational or response costs incurred in response to this emergency
  • Transportation on and access to any and all public roadways in the affected area may be restricted or prohibited in the interest of public health and safety.
  • The Kentucky Community Crisis Response Board (KCCRB) is directed to activate their network of trained counselors to provide crisis response services

 

The executive order regarding price gouging implements certain provisions of law aimed toward protecting Kentucky consumers from price gouging.

Earlier today, Gov. Beshear spoke to President Barack Obama about the storms that hit Kentucky over the weekend. The Governor is also in contact with officials from the federal Department of Homeland Security about the Commonwealth’s storm recovery efforts.

State officials across multiple state agencies have been coordinating the state’s response, and continue to monitor conditions and provide assistance to individuals impacted by the heavy rains and flooding.  The CEOC is operating at Level III and Kentucky Division of Emergency Management regional response managers are in the process of coordinating damage assessments with local officials to determine the scope of damage across the Commonwealth. 

“Preliminary assessments indicate the largest impact is to infrastructure, which includes roadways and water/sewage treatment plants,” said John W. Heltzel, director of the Division of Emergency Management. “We know there have been businesses and residents along many waterways that have experienced flooding and these numbers are likely to increase as run-off water continues.”

Kentucky Transportation Cabinet (KYTC) officials have closed approximately 400 roads across the state and dozens more remain partially obstructed due to water, mud or rock slides and storm debris.  A total of 76 Counties have reported road closures.

More than 1,000 road crew members have been mobilized statewide and continue to work around the clock. With the rain ended, districts have begun damage assessments and a full assessment of damages to bridges and culverts will commence once waters recede. So far, KY 15 at Clark-Powell line and KY 715 in Menifee County at the Red River Gorge are closed indefinitely. KY 921, Barren County is closed due to a 20-foot section of pavement missing. In Cumberland County, KY 953 and KY 3115 are expected to be closed in places for up to two weeks. Mudslides and debris are causing blockage of roads, especially in eastern and southeastern Kentucky.

Motorists should always use extra caution while driving in flooded areas, including allowing ample travel time, planning a possible detour and remember to never cross a flooded roadway—turn around, don’t drown. The public can access updated travel and weather information online at www.511.ky.gov or by dialing 511.

Officials encourage residents and business owners returning to their homes and businesses to be aware of electrical hazards associated with flooded structures. The Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services’ Department of Public Health also warn individuals of the dangers of flood water contaminants and the potential for mold to develop as waters recede. Individuals who have experienced power outages due to the storms should also be cautious when using food that has been refrigerated or frozen because of possible spoilage. For more information about public health issues related to flooding, visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Web site at: http://www.bt.cdc.gov/disasters/floods/.

The Kentucky Division of Water urges residents to properly disinfect water for in-home use, including drinking, cooking, making prepared drinks and brushing teeth.  The easiest alternative is to use bottled water if it is available and has not been exposed to flood waters. In the absence of safe bottled water, tap water should be boiled to kill most types of disease-causing organisms that may be present.

In addition to the transportation and public health officials, representatives from the Department for Fish and Wildlife Resources, the Division of Forestry, the Kentucky National Guard, the Division of Water, local and state emergency management and emergency services are all assisting in storm damage assessment and recovery and rescue efforts. 

For information and safety tips, please visit KyEM’s Web site at www.kyem.ky.gov.  For additional information on health safety tips and flood water clean-up, please visit the Department for Public Health’s Web site at www.chfs.ky.gov/dph/.

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