Governor Steve Beshear is requesting a federal disaster declaration for parts of eastern and northern Kentucky hit by tornadoes last week.
The declaration would allow federal money to help with clean up and rebuilding. It will also help provide funds to affected businesses.
Beshear announced the move at a news conference today, saying that while monetary estimates of damages aren’t yet known, he’s confident the there’s enough damage to meet the $5.8 million federal threshold for assistance.
An outbreak of storms damaged West Liberty and areas of Salyersville, in addition to the town of Piner, killing twenty-one people and injuring more than three hundred.
Beshear toured all five affected counties over the weekend. And based on what he saw, the governor says he knows federal damage aid is needed.
“There’s no doubt in my mind that the damages to our state are so heavy that we will qualify for federal disaster aid. To speed that process, today I am sending President Obama notification that I am formally requesting a federal disaster declaration,” Beshear said.
Beshear says areas in eastern Kentucky are without telecommunication, with phone lines and cell phone towers out of service. But he added that the National Guard and aid organizations were transitioning away from rescue to cleaning up and rebuilding, including moving mobile cell towers into the region.
Beshear says the damage to those cities is equivalent to a battlefield.
“The damage I saw yesterday was the worst I’ve seen. It was total devastation in West Liberty. Where I went first, in Morgan County. It looked like a bomb had been dropped in the middle of town. It was a war zone,” he said.
Beshear also encouraged people to stay away from the damaged areas and instead reach out to aid organizations to find ways to assist.