TOPEKA – Kansas Governor Sam Brownback said the state’s recovery and rebuilding response to tornadoes and severe weather that ripped through much of the state last month is going well.
In the early morning hours after the storm, the Governor declared a State of Disaster Emergency to activate the disaster response and recovery portions of the Kansas Response Plan, authorizing state resources to expedite emergency assistance statewide.
The counties covered in the state declaration of disaster emergency are Barber, Barton, Butler, Chase, Clay, Comanche, Dickinson, Edwards, Ellsworth, Geary, Greenwood, Harper, Harvey, Hodgeman, Jewell, Kingman, Kiowa, Lincoln, Lyon, Marion, Marshall, McPherson, Mitchell, Morris, Osborne, Ottawa, Pawnee, Pratt, Rice, Riley, Rush, Russell, Saline, Sedgwick, Sumner, Stafford, and Wabaunsee Counties.
“After the storm, emergency responders, local governments and the state’s emergency management team responded quickly and professionally,” Gov. Brownback said. “The rebuilding will take time and patience, but the state will continue to do what it can to help the storm-ravaged communities work to repair and rebuild so they can get on their feet and back to normal.”
· Kansas Division of Emergency Management (KDEM) communicated before, during and after the storms with county emergency managers regarding potential storm damage response needs.
o KDEM worked with counties to collect damage assessment information in order to request and secure Small Business Administration (SBA) assistance. The SBA began taking applications last week for low-interest federal loans to homeowners, renters, businesses and nonprofit groups whose property was damaged in the April 14 storms. The loans are available in Sedgwick, Butler, Cowley, Harvey, Kingman, Reno and Sumner counties. KDEM and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) are continuing to assess damage to determine if government and non-profit entities impacted by the storms will be eligible for federal assistance.
· The Kansas Department of Social and Rehabilitative Services had more than 20 staff members set up and work emergency response centers in Oaklawn and Derby to assist nearly 400 people replace food assistance, complete new applications and change addresses.
· The Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE) waived fees to replace marriage and birth certificates.
o KDHE’s Bureau of Waste Management provided assistance involving some prompt modifications to operating plans and use of disposal areas.
o KDHE’s Bureau of Environmental Field Services worked with the City of Wichita to approve a new tree and brush site at the wastewater treatment plant.
· The Kansas Department of Revenue waived fees for those impacted by the tornadoes who needed to replace driver's licenses, identification cards and vehicle tags. Additionally, the department granted an extension for filing state income taxes if requested and will waive penalties on late business taxes. The department will also replace tax documents without charge.
· The Kansas Housing Resources Corporation is working in a collaborative effort with a variety of organizations to assess the housing needs of dozens of families and provide housing assistance to affected residents.
Brownback said the storms that damaged or destroyed hundreds of homes, particularly in the Wichita and Sedgwick County areas on the night of April 14 tested the community, emergency responders, local government and the state’s emergency response team.
“Even before the severe weather hit, all modes of communication were alerting people to the impending storms,” Brownback said. “The communities heeded those warnings and took cover. Unfortunately, the severe weather threat turned out to be very real, but thankfully, we were spared any loss of life. ”
The National Weather Service has confirmed dozens of tornadoes hit the Midwest on April 14th.