Kansas governor requests federal disaster declaration for Dec. 15 wind storms, fires

A windmill is silhouetted against smoke from a fire that burned and stretched across Ellis,...
A windmill is silhouetted against smoke from a fire that burned and stretched across Ellis, Russell, Osborne and Rooks counties Thursday, Dec. 16, 2021, near Natoma, Kan. Firefighters and emergency responders are battling fires spreading across parts of central and western Kansas after a powerful storm blew through the state. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)(Charlie Riedel | AP)
Published: Jan. 25, 2022 at 4:07 PM CST
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WICHITA, Kan. (KWCH) - Governor Laura Kelly has requested a major presidential declaration for the damage caused by Dec. 15 from severe storms with extremely high winds on Dec. 15, 2021.

Last month, high winds of up to 60 to 100 mph and dry conditions led to wildfires that burned more than 160,000 acres and resulted in the deaths of two people. Kelly’s letter to President Joe Biden said called the weather event was extremely rare, citing information from the Topeka office of the National Weather Service that registered 90 mph winds at 4,000 feet, which was stronger than any winds recorded at that level since 1955.

Total preliminary damage estimates place the total for all involved counties in excess of $15 million. Kelly’s request is for federal funding to help restore damaged public utilities, roads and bridges.

“Severe storm damages can be bad enough,” said Kelly, “but to add to that the losses caused by wildfires creates a heavy financial burden on our Kansas counties. I am requesting this disaster declaration to help our counties repair the damages caused by these storms and wildfires and get things back to normal for our citizens.”

Counties that are included in the initial request are: Barton, Brown, Clay, Cloud, Doniphan, Edwards, Ellis, Ellsworth, Ford, Geary, Gove, Graham, Grant, Gray, Greeley, Hamilton, Haskell, Hodgeman, Jewell, Kearny, Lane, Lincoln, Logan, Marshall, Meade, Mitchell, Morris, Morton, Nemaha, Ness, Osborne, Ottawa, Pawnee, Republic, Rice, Riley, Rooks, Rush, Russell, Saline, Scott, Sheridan, Smith, Stafford, Stanton, Stevens, Sumner, Trego, Wabaunsee, Wallace, Washington, Wichita and Wyandotte.

If declared by the president, additional counties may be added if the damages sustained can meet or exceed the county’s public assistance threshold.

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