WASHINGTON, DC, USA – US President Joe Biden on Sunday, December 12, declared a major federal disaster in Kentucky after a swarm of deadly tornadoes hit the state on Friday, paving the way for additional federal aid, an administration official said.
Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear formally requested the declaration on Sunday after the twisters obliterated the small city of Mayfield and destroyed a candle factory.
Biden received the request and approved it on Sunday evening, the administration official said.
The governor said the tornadoes were the most destructive in the state’s history and that even the sturdiest structures of steel and brick were flattened. One twister tore across 227 miles (365 km) of terrain, almost all of that in Kentucky, Beshear said.
The Democratic president had previously declared the storms a federal emergency, enabling the Federal Emergency Management Agency to assist in the aftermath as thousands face housing, food, water and power shortages.
But under an emergency declaration assistance is limited to $5 million, according to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) website.
A major disaster declaration has no such limit and “provides a wide range of federal assistance programs for individuals and public infrastructure, including funds for both emergency and permanent work,” FEMA’s website says. – Rappler.com