FRANKFORT, K.Y. -- Teams of recovery specialists are spreading out across the Commonwealth to assist communities and private nonprofits in their recovery from the worst ice storm in Kentucky history.
"We are working with FEMA to ensure our communities get the technical assistance and advice they need to get help with the tremendous costs related to this unprecedented disaster," said Brig. Gen. John W. Heltzel, director of the Kentucky Division of ?Emergency Management.
Heltzel estimates the damage, currently reported, is at least $185 million, primarily related to utilities crippled by the snow, ice and low temperatures. This figure will likely increase, as numbers continue to come in to the Commonwealth.
Shortly after the Feb. 5 disaster declaration, KYEM Public Assistance officials began coordinating with their Federal Emergency Management Agency counterparts to document damages given the inaccessibility of so many affected areas.
"We were impressed with the Commonwealth?s relationship with county Judge Executives, local emergency managers and community officials," said Kim R. Kadesch, federal coordinating officer.
"Kentucky?s organization, persistence and resourcefulness enabled us to quickly get a handle on the scope of damages," he said.
By Feb. 18, the Commonwealth was conducting the first of 11 teleconferences to provide an overview of the reimbursement process to hundreds of local governments and eligible private nonprofits.
Applicants have until March 6 to file a simple form to get the first step in the process underway. This form is called the Request for Public Assistance (RPA) and can be downloaded from the KYEM web site at www.kyem.ky.gov ?under the Public Assistance page.
The next step involves a series of Kickoff Meetings to be conducted across the Commonwealth by joint teams of KYEM/FEMA project specialists.
The first meeting is slated for today. Applicants will hear from their assigned project specialists who will help facilitate the documentation process, resolve questions and provide specialized experience in areas such as debris removal or construction.
Over the coming weeks and months, KYEM and FEMA expect to process several thousand documents describing damages and repair estimates.
"We recognize this may be a long-term process," said Kadesch. "We will be here as long as it takes to get the job done."
FEMA leads and supports the nation in a risk-based, comprehensive emergency management system of preparedness, protection, response, recovery, and mitigation, to reduce the loss of life and property and protect the nation from all hazards including natural disasters, acts of terrorism, and other man-made disasters.