Tuesday, June 8, 2004

Fletcher asks Bush to declare major disaster

By Bruce Schreiner
The Associated Press

LOUISVILLE - Cleanup from storms that wreaked damage in the millions of dollars in the past two weeks continued Monday as Gov. Ernie Fletcher asked President Bush to declare a major disaster in Kentucky.

Five days of storms produced tornados, flooding and mud slides. Five deaths were blamed on the weather.

Statewide damage estimates reached $17 million Monday, said Stacy Floden, information officer for Kentucky Emergency Management.

In a letter to the White House, Fletcher said storm damages "pose an immediate and long-term threat to the safety, health and well-being of thousands of Kentuckians" and federal assistance will be needed.

Thirty-six of Kentucky's 120 counties reported damage, according to the Fletcher administration. Floods and tornados damaged or destroyed more than 2,000 homes, and more than 1,000 people reportedly were still displaced in Henry, Floyd, Magoffin and Martin counties.

Fletcher requested individual disaster assistance in the 36 counties known to have damage plus neighboring counties in which there might be future claims.

Floden, of Kentucky Emergency Management, said state officials hope to get a response from the White House this week. She said much of the repair work is on hold until property owners find out if federal assistance will be available.

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