FRANKFORT, Ky. -- At its one-month anniversary, the severe ice storm of Jan. 26-27 is being labeled with chilling superlatives, as the Kentucky Division of Emergency Management (KYEM) and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) continue to partner in recovery efforts:
- The Biggest. The storm has been called the most widely damaging Kentucky weather event in the Commonwealth's modern history. Assessment teams from local governments, KYEM and FEMA are bringing back estimates that push the total damage figure past $214 million.
- The First. In response to the storm, Gov. Steve Beshear made the first-ever total call-up of the Kentucky National Guard. He activated the Commonwealth's entire Army National Guard and units of the Air National Guard. Altogether, 4,100 troops deployed in the largest call-up for a state disaster in Kentucky National Guard history.
- The Worst. The 36 deaths classed as storm-related make this the Commonwealth's most lethal ice storm in memory, and one of its deadliest modern weather events.
- The Most. When more than 160 emergency generators were placed in critical facilities across Kentucky, partnering FEMA, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and KYEM, the campaign became the largest of its kind in the history of the Corps of Engineers.
- The Cutting Edge. When FEMA communications teams in convoys of high-tech vehicles responded to help Kentucky's emergency communications network, KYEM broke new ground in terms of partnering with FEMA and innovating to meet fast-changing needs.
The Scope. A federal emergency declaration on Jan. 28 was expanded to cover 100 counties, sending immediate aid, while a disaster declaration on Feb. 5 authorized 93 counties for wider FEMA assistance. All 120 counties in Kentucky became eligible for FEMA mitigation assistance, focused on preventive measures to strengthen the state against future events.
The storm placed a heavy cost burden on local government. More than 120 FEMA infrastructure specialists and engineers have been engaged in recovery planning with municipalities, county governments and other entities, to reimburse them for emergency measures and removal of debris left by the storm. More than 700 requests for aid are expected, representing perhaps 3,500 individual work projects.
Partnering among agencies has been a major aspect of the relief work. Ten states sent specialized personnel and other assets to Kentucky. The Kentucky National Guard, performing house-to-house checks and distributing relief supplies, interfaced with 10 area emergency managers working through the State Emergency Operations center, which is located in Frankfort. Some 25 voluntary agencies came from at least 15 states. FEMA has coordinated with other federal agencies including the U.S. Department of Transportation, the U.S. Department of Energy, the U.S. Public Health Service, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and a number of others.
"Certainly this recent disaster has been a challenge, but through a combined effort at the local, state
and federal level and the partnerships we've formed, we are making excellent progress," said
Brig. Gen. John Heltzel, director of Kentucky Division of Emergency Management. "This recovery process will take time, but we will get our communities back in good shape."
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.