PITTSBURG — On Friday, the Crawford County Commission approved a disaster declaration following last week’s storms and tornadoes. Over the weekend, higher level officials including Gov. Laura Kelly and Sen. Jerry Moran (R-Kan.) weighed in on issues related to the flooding and damage from the storm, including the possibility of getting federal funding for relief efforts.
Sen. Moran spoke in Topeka on Saturday after being briefed by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), Army Corps of Engineers and the National Weather Service at the Kansas Dept. of Emergency Operations Center.
Moran reportedly said there has likely been enough damage statewide to warrant a national-level disaster declaration, and after being briefed on the situation in Topeka he would be in a better position to make the state’s case to President Trump.
“I would guess that at some point in time there may be a request for help from the Federal Government with a Declaration of a National Emergency," Moran said.
As it turned out, that request was issued the following day.
Gov. Kelly’s office released a statement Sunday she had made a request for Direct Federal Assistance, provided through FEMA, to deal with the aftermath of the storms.
"Kansas is experiencing damage from severe weather and historic flooding due to extended heavy rain," Kelly said in the statement. “Today I sent a request to President Donald Trump for emergency federal assistance for response and recovery. We are working with our local, state, and federal partners to ensure Kansans have the resources they need at this challenging time.”
Kelly originally signed a state disaster declaration May 9, but has now amended that declaration to include more than 40 Kansas counties. Crawford County is among those on the list, along with neighboring Allen, Cherokee and Neosho counties.
"In order to proactively expand our resources and ensure the Kansas Division of Emergency Management has everything it needs to assist local partners and keep people safe, we have requested through the Emergency Management Assistance Compact an advanced team to assist our personnel,” Kelly said in the statement. “As we work with impacted communities, I want to ensure that every resource is being brought to bear to assist local emergency personnel so we can keep people safe and limit damage to property."
The previous day, Kelly issued a separate statement calling for caution and awareness of flooding in the wake of the storms.
“Kansas is experiencing extreme weather and rain on an already saturated river and reservoir system,” Kelly said in that statement. “As a result, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is preparing for the potential of a controlled release of water from certain reservoirs. If you are told to evacuate, please do so immediately.”
In other news related to last week’s severe weather, the National Guard has reportedly been activated in both Kansas and Missouri to assist in dealing with flooding and damage from the storms.
Missouri saw extensive damage from the same storms that hit Southeast Kansas, including devastation from an EF-3 tornado in Jefferson City that made national headlines and resulted in three deaths.