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President approves federal disaster request for December storms

Feb. 18, 2022 | By Bailey Hittle

President Joe Biden has approved a federal disaster requested by Gov. Laura Kelly Jan. 24 for severe storms and straight-line winds that occurred Dec. 15, 2021.

The request is for Public Assistance for emergency work and the repair or replacement of disaster-damaged facilities. Named in the request are Barton, Brown, Clay, Cloud, Doniphan, Edwards, Ellis, Ellsworth, Ford, Geary, Gove, Graham, Grant, Gray, Greeley, Hamilton, Haskell, Hodgeman, Jewell, Kearny, Lane, Lincoln, Logan, Marshall, Meade, Mitchell, Morris, Morton, Nemaha, Ness, Osborne, Ottawa, Pawnee, Republic, Rice, Riley, Rooks, Rush, Russell, Saline, Scott, Sheridan, Smith, Stafford, Stanton, Stevens, Sumner, Trego, Wabaunsee, Wallace, Washington, Wichita, and Wyandotte Counties.

Additional designations may be made at a later date if requested by the state and warranted by the results of further damage assessments.

“This federal assistance will go far in getting things back to normal in these counties,” said Kelly. “We are grateful to the president for approving this request.”

The declaration also activates the Hazard Mitigation Grant Program statewide. All counties are eligible to apply for funds to prevent or reduce long-term risk to life and property from natural hazards.

In the request, Kelly said the storm system generated wind gusts ranging from 60 to 100 mph, causing widespread damage. Kelly’s letter said the weather event was of an extremely rare nature, citing information from the Topeka office of the National Weather Service that registered 90 mph winds at 4,000 feet, which was stronger that any winds recorded at that level since 1955.

Joint preliminary damaged estimates placed the total damages for all involved counties in excess of $15 million.