Gov. Laura Kelly sent a letter to President Joe Biden seeking a major disaster declaration for winter storms accompanied by snow, ice and extreme winds that occurred March 17-22. Kelly submitted her request through the Federal Emergency Management Agency May 3.
Counties named in the declaration are Barton, Clark, Comanche, Edwards, Ellis, Ford, Graham, Gray, Hodgeman, Kiowa, Lane, Meade, Ness, Pawnee, Phillips, Rooks, Rush, Stafford, Trego and Wallace counties.
This request was due to two late winter storms that impacted western and parts of central Kansas beginning on March 17 with impacts lasting into March 22. Each storm produced sticky wet heavy snow combined with strong winds of 50 to 70 mph which contributed to damage to power poles and power lines. Many power outages occurred especially during the second winter storm due to the damage to the utility infrastructure and rural electric cooperatives.
“Heavy snow, ice, and strong winds can be destructive to the utility line infrastructure,” said Kelly. “Based upon the amount of damage sustained, it will be important to have federal support available to assist rural electric cooperatives and municipally-owned utilities rebuild their electric utility infrastructure.”
Kelly issued a Governor’s Declaration of Emergency March 20.
On March 31, due to the severity of the damage reported by local officials, the Kansas Division of Emergency Management requested a joint federal, state, and local survey of the damaged areas. On April 5 the governor requested an extension for enough time to complete the joint preliminary damage assessments which was approved until May 5.