WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – Governor Laura Kelly has sent a presidential disaster declaration request to President Joe Biden due to the damage from the high wind storm Kansas experienced on Dec. 15, 2021.
In the request, Kelly describes that the storm generated wind gusts between 60 and 100 mph, causing severe damage across Kansas. During this time, the state was also suffering from dry conditions. A combination of these two factors led to wildfires which burned over 160,000 acres and resulted in the death of two people.
Kelly submitted the request through the Federal Emergency Management Agency asking for federal funding from the Public Assistance Program to help restore damaged public utilities, roads, and bridges. The total estimated damage for all counties amounts to $15 million.
Counties that are included in the initial 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.
If Biden approves this request, more counties may be added if the damages can meet or exceed the county’s public assistance threshold.
In the letter, Kelly also states that the event was extremely rare, citing the information from the Topeka office of the National Weather Service that registered 90 mph winds at 4,000 feet, which was stronger than any winds recorded at that level since 1955.
“Severe storm damages can be bad enough,” said Kelly, “but to add to that, the losses caused by wildfires create a heavy financial burden on our Kansas counties. 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.”