FRANKFORT, Ky. -- Less than a month after a brutal ice storm marched through Kentucky, power is back to more than 700,000 customers, all emergency shelters have closed and the recovery is in full swing.
The catastrophic ice storm - the worst natural disaster in modern Kentucky history - prompted a coordinated, rapid flow of food, water, technology and generators to the commonwealth.
"Literally every county in Kentucky was immediately impacted to some degree,'' said Brig. Gen. John W. Heltzel, director of the Kentucky Division of Emergency Management (KYEM) who led the Commonwealth's massive response.
Federal disaster aid was made available almost immediately through a Presidential Emergency Declaration on Jan. 28 - less than 12 hours after Gov. Steve Beshear's request. A major disaster declaration for 93 of Kentucky's 120 counties was signed by President Obama on Feb. 5 to reimburse costs for eligible debris removal and emergency protective measures. Commonwealth officials have gathered data for nine additional counties, which may be added to the disaster at a later date.
The Kentucky National Guard deployed 4,100 soldiers at the peak of the storm and engaged in a door-to-door "wellness'' campaign. Soldiers assisted with debris removal, traffic control and other missions. They also delivered life-saving and life- sustaining commodities.
U.S. Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano and Federal Emergency Management Agency Acting Administrator Nancy Ward toured the damage with Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear.
Briefings were held this week with public and private nonprofit entities as the first step toward reimbursing them for disaster-related emergency expenses.
"Clearly, we've transitioned from response to recovery,'' said Kim R. Kadesch, federal coordinating officer for the disaster. "Now our mission is to support the commonwealth, local governments and eligible private nonprofits to assist them in the recovery and reimbursement of eligible expenses associated with the disaster.''
A by-the-numbers look at the disaster (As of COB Feb. 19):
- $115 million in preliminary disaster assessments;
- 36 fatalities (carbon monoxide 11, hypothermia 8, vehicular 4, cardiac arrest 4, fire 3, other 6);
- 987,810 meals delivered;
- 1.9 million liters water delivered;
- 500 cots delivered;
- 1,000 blankets delivered;
- 4,911 miles of road affected by storm;
- 220 shelters served 7,009 people at the peak of the storm, with last shelter closing Feb. 13;
- 10 state emergency management agencies - Tennessee, North Carolina, West Virginia, Indiana, Ohio, Louisiana, Florida, Mississippi, Alabama and Wisconsin - sent more than 600 personnel, cots with bedding, wood chippers, generators, communications equipment, dump trucks and other large equipment to help move trees and debris;
- 4 FEMA Mobile Emergency Response System (MERS) vehicles provided critical telecommunications support after the storm in key locations throughout the state: the Emergency Operations Center and staging areas in Frankfort, Paducah, Greenville and Fort Campbell. Also provided mobile towers and radios;
- More than 250 generators arranged for, moved and installed at critical facilities by the Kentucky National Guard, FEMA and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers;
- 25 volunteer organizations offered help from 15 states.
Other disaster details:
- State Emergency Ope...