President Joe Biden has declared a major disaster in Kentucky, and ordered Federal aid to support recovery efforts in the areas affected by the devastating tornadoes at the weekend.
At least 80 people were confirmed dead in in the worst tornado event in the state’s history, and Governor Andy Beshear said the death toll is feared to cross 100.
“I know we’ve lost more than 80 Kentuckians. That number is going to exceed more than 100. This is the deadliest tornado event we’ve ever had,” he told reporters.
The Governor has set up a fund to support the relief efforts. He called on people to donate to the Team Western Kentucky Tornado Relief Fund, which is now live at TeamWKYReliefFund.ky.gov.
The Presidential action makes Federal funding available to affected people in the counties of Caldwell, Fulton, Graves, Hopkins, Marshall, Muhlenberg, Taylor, and Warren.
Assistance can include grants for temporary housing and home repairs, low-cost loans to cover uninsured property losses, and other programs to help individuals and business owners recover from the effects of the disaster.
John Brogan has been named the Federal Coordinating Officer for Federal recovery operations in the affected areas.
Residents and business owners who sustained losses in the designated counties can apply for assistance by registering online at http://www.DisasterAssistance.gov or by calling 1-800-621-FEMA (3362) or 1-800-462-7585 (TTY) for the hearing and speech impaired.
Around 50 deadly and devastating tornadoes moved across eight states in southern and central United States late Friday into Saturday.
The tornadoes, severe storms, straight-line winds and flooding knocked out power lines, ripped roofs off buildings and destroyed the homes of thousands of people.
Kentucky was the worst-affected state where the extreme weather wreaked havoc across its 227 mile path.
The Mayor of the town of Dawson Springs in western Kentucky said about three fourth of the community was wiped out and replaced by “chaos.”
The fire station and the city hall were completely damaged in Mayfield, one of the hardest hit regions.
Arkansas, Illinois, Indiana, Missouri, Mississippi, Ohio and Tennessee are the other states where the tornados hit.
Fourteen people died in these states, reports quoting state and local officials said.
Speaking in Wilmington, Delaware, Biden said, “This is likely to be one of the largest tornado outbreaks in our history”.
He said he is monitoring the situation very closely, and called the governors of the states that have experienced severe impacts of the storms.
Biden has requested that FEMA offer additional federal resources, including help with temporary housing, where homes have been wiped out or too badly damaged to live in.
Governor Beshear earlier declared a state of emergency and activated 180 Kentucky National Guard members as well as the State Police. The state also is using armories as places of refuge for Kentuckians in need of shelter.
State workers are on the ground to help clear roadways and debris.
The President had approved the emergency declaration the Governor requested Saturday.
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