Gov. Beshear Requests Major Disaster Declaration from Federal Government for Historic Flooding

Gov. Andy Beshear submitted a request to President Joe Biden today asking that a Major Disaster Declaration be issued for some of the worst flooding in Kentucky history, after unprecedented rainfall led to flash flooding, mudslides and landslides across the commonwealth.

“This flooding was some of the worst in my lifetime, damaging about 2,000 homes and destroying infrastructure, including some of our roadways, and we are asking the president to declare a disaster to provide both individual and public assistance that is needed to help our people and our communities rebuild,” said Gov. Beshear. “This flooding, just days after harsh winter storms left tens of thousands without power, was the latest in a line of devastating setbacks, but our people are strong, we are resilient and we will build back.”

From Feb. 26 to March 1, Kentucky experienced more than seven inches of rain in four Southcentral and Southeastern Kentucky counties. Flooding occurred on the Green, Kentucky, Licking, Ohio, Red and Mississippi rivers.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has conducted joint damage assessments and validated more than 2,000 impacted homes in the counties of Breathitt, Clay, Estill, Floyd, Johnson, Lee, Magoffin, Martin and Powell. The Governor is requesting these counties receive Individuals and Households Assistance from FEMA.

“The recent flooding event brought yet another severe impact to families and communities across the commonwealth, and more specifically to our residents in nine eastern counties already damaged from the February ice storm event,” said Michael Dossett, director of Kentucky Emergency Management. “The Governor’s request for an award of individual and public assistance from the federal government highlights the urgency and extreme need for support in restoring the damaged and destroyed homes in our flooded neighborhoods and repairing the infrastructure damage suffered in this record flooding event.”

More than 44 counties have reported more than 1,200 instances of damage to infrastructure, debris removal and emergency measures totaling over $49 million. Kentucky, to date, has requested FEMA joint assessments in 36 counties, including Bell, Boyd, Breathitt, Carter, Casey, Cumberland, Elliott, Floyd, Franklin, Greenup, Harlan, Jackson, Johnson, Knott, Knox, Lawrence, Lee, Leslie, Lincoln, Magoffin, Marion, Martin, Mason, McCreary, Morgan, Ohio, Owsley, Perry, Pike, Powell, Pulaski, Rockcastle, Trigg, Union, Whitley and Wolfe. As of March 30, 2021, FEMA has verified in excess of $30 million in Public Assistance damages. The state threshold for requesting a declaration is $6.7 million.

Gov. Beshear and Senior Advisor Rocky Adkins viewed flooding damage, met with local leaders and talked to those affected by the historic storms when they surveyed damage in Lee and Breathitt counties on March 5 and traveled to Hazard on March 10.

The Governor issued a State of Emergency Order on Feb. 28, 2021. Forty-eight counties and 31 cities also declared local states of emergency. Of the 48 counties declaring a state of emergency for this flooding, 26 were severely impacted by a February 2021 ice storm for which President Biden issued a Major Disaster Declaration on March 31. 

The Governor activated the Kentucky National Guard, which had soldiers assist in five counties, and worked with partners to deliver 45,000 gallons of water and more than 53,000 meals to Kentuckians in need.

Gov. Beshear requested the disaster declaration approximately one week after President Biden approved the Governor’s request for a major disaster declaration for severe winter storms that impacted Kentucky from Feb. 8 through Feb. 19, 2021.

Residents with questions or additional reports of flood damage should contact their local county emergency management agency.