TOPEKA, Kan. — Governor Laura Kelly has petitioned President Joe Biden for federal assistance on Tuesday to help with ongoing recovery efforts in the aftermath of the storms and wildfires which occurred on Dec. 15, 2021.
According to a recent press release from the Adjutant General’s Department, the request to Biden came through the Federal Management Agency which asked the president to make a major declaration for the Public Assistance Program due to the damage caused by the extreme winds and fires that spread on Dec. 15. Kelly visited with residents in western Kansas on Dec. 29, 2021 to survey the extent of the damage personally and meet with farmers and ranchers who were hit hard by the wildfires, saying that “it’s critical that we mobilize all of the available resources to aid their recovery.”
In her request to Biden, Kelly alleged that the storm had wind gusts ranging from 60 to 100 mph, causing widespread damage across Kansas. More than 160,000 acres were burned by the wildfire that followed the passing storm front which claimed two lives. Kelly went on to say that the storm was of “an extremely rare nature” and cited information from the Topeka office of the National Weather Service which registered 90 mph winds at 4,000 feet during the storm. Winds have not reached that level of strength since 1955.
Further on in her request, Kelly states that joint preliminary damage estimates have placed the total damages for all involved counties in excess of $15 million. The governor hopes to use federal funding to restore damaged public utilities, roads and bridges.
“Severe storm damages can be bad enough, but to add to that the losses caused by wildfires creates a heavy financial burden on our Kansas counties,” Kelly said. “I am requesting this disaster declaration to help our counties repair the damages caused by these storms and wildfires and get things back to normal for our citizens.”
The Kansas Legislature has also taken steps to help Kansas farmers and those who suffered power outages last year. A bill was recently approved unanimously by the Assessment and Taxation committee in the legislature which seeks to make tax exemptions for property damaged by the wildfires along with other provisions designed to lessen the burden placed on those residents of western Kansas.