Adjutant General: 2007 Storm Damage Tops $600 Million in Kansas

January 4, 2008

Damage from an ice storm that hit Kansas in early December pushed the 2007 total to more than $625 million in reimbursable losses.

But the state adjutant general’s office warned Wednesday that the numbers would likely be much higher for the storm, which hit the state Dec. 6 and intensified on Dec. 10, coating much of Kansas in a sheet of ice and knocking out power to more than 115,000 households.

Preliminary figures put the losses for Kansas electric cooperatives at $144 million alone to rebuild transmission lines and reset poles.

Kansas had four federally declared disasters in 2007, including the May 4 tornado that struck Greensburg and summer flooding that affected a large swath of eastern Kansas.

Maj. Gen. Tod Bunting, state adjutant general and director of emergency management, said total damage assessments from the most recent storm won’t be available for at least a week. The preliminary numbers don’t include expenses by local governments to respond to the storm and remove debris.

The federal government will reimburse 75 percent of the costs, while the state and local governments split the remaining portion. Individuals received federal assistance for the tornadoes and flooding, but not the winter storms under federal guidelines.

Bunting described the disasters that hit Kansas in 2007 as “unbelievable.”

“We lost 25 lives in the four storms, an entire community was nearly destroyed, many homes and personal belongings lost forever, and not a county in the state was spared some sort of impact,” Bunting said.

Emergency management officials said the recent storm followed a path similar path to that of the storm that hit Dec. 28, 2006, and grew in intensity by New Year’s Eve. While the first storm brought heavy snow, the recent storm covered the state in thick blanket of ice, followed by more snow.

State legislators have prepared a $17.5 million aid package for tornado and flood victims, with money to encourage home construction and tax breaks for businesses. Legislators will consider the package when they begin the 2008 session on Jan. 14.

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