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Obama signs major disaster declaration for Kentucky

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Declaration covers Anderson, over 90 other counties

By The Staff

UPDATED 4:30 P.M. THURSDAY - President Barack Obama signed a major disaster declaration today for Anderson and over 90 other counties in Kentucky, according to a news release from the White House.

Obama ordered federal aid to supplement commonwealth and local recovery efforts in the area struck by last week's winter storm, the release said.

The federal funding is available to commonwealth and eligible local governments and certain private nonprofit organizations on a cost-sharing basis. It is to cover costs of debris removal and emergency protective measures, including direct federal assistance.

According to a news release from Gov. Steve Beshear's Communications Office, under such a declaration, the federal government usually reimburses 75 percent of local and state governmental expenditures on a range of items. Beshear has requested 100 percent reimbursement of the costs for the expenses encountered in the first seven days of the storm. According to FEMA, that request is still being considered.

Beshear praised Obama's quick response.

"I appreciate President Obama's quick response to our request for a major disaster declaration following this devastating storm," he said in the release. "This quick action allows state and local governments to recover significant expenditures they have incurred in response to the storm. I will continue to pursue 100 percent reimbursement for the seven days following storm and I’m hopeful that we will receive approval for this as well.”

According to a news release from Sen. Mitch McConnell's office, McConnell wrote to the president on Jan. 28 and Feb. 2, urging him to consider Kentucky's request for a federal disaster declaration.

"Severe snow and ice storms swept through the Commonwealth and caused extensive damage throughout Kentucky resulting in significant economic hardship and interrupting power to households in every region," McConnell said in the release. "I appreciate President Obama approving this request which will provide needed federal assistance to help my state recover from this natural disaster."

So far, 101 Kentucky counties and 78 cities have declared emergencies, according to the news release from the governor's office. As of Thursday, 29 storm-related fatalities have been reported and approximately 157,000 Kentucky customers remain without power.

The governor's office estimates the storm has cost more than $61 million statewide. That number is expected to increase as local governments tally their expenses, the release said.

See the Feb. 11 edition of The Anderson News for more information about the local impact of the storm.