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President signs flood disaster declaration
Action opens door for infrastructure assistance
flood disaster declare
Shown is the Arkansas River south of Ellinwood after it flooded in May. An applicant briefing for public entities impacted by the flooding is set for Tuesday afternoon at the Barton County Courthouse. - photo by Tribune file photo

WASHINGTON – With stagnant flood water still choking rivers and creeks, and covering rural roads, there was a bit of good news Thursday for soggy public entities reeling from the storms. President Donald Trump approved the Major Disaster Declaration for 53 counties in Kansas, including Barton County.

“This is the first step,” said Barton County Emergency Manager Amy Miller. Now, she will begin to set up meetings so townships, cities and other organizations can report preliminary damage estimates.

However, this declaration is not for the public, she said. That may come at a later date.

Thursday President Donald J. Trump declared that a major disaster exists in the State of Kansas and ordered Federal assistance to supplement State and local recovery efforts in the areas affected by severe storms, straight-line winds, tornadoes, flooding, landslides, and mudslides beginning on April 28 and continuing.

Federal funding is available to State and eligible local governments and certain private nonprofit organizations on a cost-sharing basis for emergency work and the repair or replacement of facilities damaged by the severe storms in Allen, Anderson, Atchison, Barber, Barton, Butler, Chase, Chautauqua, Cherokee, Clark, Clay, Cloud, Coffey, Cowley, Doniphan, Elk, Ellsworth, Franklin, Geary, Greenwood, Harper, Harvey, Hodgeman, Jefferson, Kingman, Leavenworth, Lincoln, Linn, Lyon, Marion, Marshall, McPherson, Meade, Montgomery, Morris, Nemaha, Neosho, Osage, Ottawa, Pawnee, Phillips, Pottawatomie, Pratt, Reno, Rice, Rush, Russell, Saline, Sumner, Wabaunsee, Washington, Wilson and Woodson counties.

There will likely be 12 more counties added to this list, Miller said.

This declaration opens the entire state of Kansas to Hazard Mitigation Grant Program through the Federal Emergency Management Agency, and eligible affected counties can now receive public assistance for rebuilding public facilities and infrastructure, First District Congressman Roger Marshall said. This would apply to debris removal, roads, bridges, levee, public utilities, parks and other structures.

These counties are also eligible for Disaster Loan Assistance through the Small Business Administration, he said. “Washington will continue to work with the Administration, FEMA, and Small Business Administration to ensure that Kansans have the tools and resources they need to get through these difficult times.” 

U.S. Senator Jerry Moran (R-Kan.) Friday also commended Trump for This approval. “I am pleased the President swiftly approved this disaster declaration that will assist counties and local governments in their efforts to rebuild and recover from persistent severe weather that has hurt many Kansans, especially our farmers and ranchers.”

Pete Gaynor, Acting Administrator, Federal Emergency Management Agency, Department of Homeland Security, named Jon K. Huss as the federal coordinating officer for federal recovery operations in the affected areas.

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