Kansas governor requests presidential disaster declaration after December wildfires

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Published: Jan. 25, 2022 at 4:05 PM CST
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TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) - Over a month after extreme winds started wildfires across Kansas, Governor Laura Kelly has requested a presidential disaster declaration.

The Kansas Adjutant General’s Office says Governor Laura Kelly sent a formal request to President Joe Biden on Jan. 25 to request a major presidential declaration for the Public Assistance Program through the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

Gov. Kelly said she made the request because of damage resulting from severe storms with extremely high winds on Dec. 15, 2021.

In the request, Kelly said the storm generated wind gusts from 60 - 100 mph, which caused widespread damage. She said the conditions led to wildfires that burned over 160,000 acres and resulted in the deaths of two Kansans.

The Governor’s letter said the event was of an extremely rare nature, citing information from the Topeka office of the National Weather Service, which registered 90 mph winds at 4,000 feet, which was stronger than any winds recorded at that level since 1955.

Joint preliminary damage estimates found an excess of $15 million for all involved counties. The request was made 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.”

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

Counties 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.

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