Kentucky Emergency Declaration Approved for Kentucky; 50 or More Feared Dead in State

Click here for local coverage of damage in Kentucky.

As Kentucky comes to grips with the deadly quad state tornado that may have left 50 or more people dead President Joe Biden quickly took action to declare an emergency exists in the Commonwealth of Kentucky and ordered Federal assistance to supplement Commonwealth and local response efforts due to the emergency conditions resulting from severe storms, straight-line winds, flooding, and tornadoes beginning on December 10, 2021, and continuing.

The President’s action authorizes the Department of Homeland Security, Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), to coordinate all disaster relief efforts which have the purpose of alleviating the hardship and suffering caused by the emergency on the local population, and to provide appropriate assistance for required emergency measures, authorized under Title V of the Stafford Act, to save lives and to protect property and public health and safety, and to lessen or avert the threat of a catastrophe in the counties of Breckenridge, Bullitt, Caldwell, Fulton, Graves, Grayson, Hickman, Hopkins, Lyon, Meade, Muhlenberg, Ohio, Shelby, Spencer, and Warren.

Specifically, FEMA is authorized to identify, mobilize, and provide at its discretion, equipment and resources necessary to alleviate the impacts of the emergency.  Emergency protective measures, including direct federal assistance, will be provided at 75 percent Federal funding. 

Deanne Criswell, Administrator, Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), Department of Homeland Security, named John Brogan as the Federal Coordinating Officer for Federal recovery operations in the affected areas. 



President Biden spoke with Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear this morning to express his condolences for the lives lost and the devastation that Kentucky experienced as a result of the extreme weather that impacted multiple states overnight. The President indicated that he has directed FEMA and other Federal agencies to provide the speediest assistance possible to impacted communities. The President and the Governor agreed to stay in contact throughout the day as search and rescue operations and damage assessments are ongoing.

Andy Beshear updated Kentuckians on on multiple occassions on his administration’s response to the recent deadly quad-state tornado.

Updates included some good news: President Joe Biden approved the emergency declaration the Governor requested earlier today. The declaration orders federal assistance to help with local response efforts. The Governor thanked the President for his commitment to helping our people recover.

“Today, Kentucky is absolutely united,” Gov. Beshear said. “We are united with our people; united to find and rescue as many as possible; united to grieve; and united to be here for our families impacted – not just today, but in the years to come so that we can rebuild together.”

The Governor also reminded Kentuckians of three tips for assisting impacted families:

  1. First, if they are in a community that has been hit hard by the storms, and they are safe and have power, stay off the roads. “Let our first responders get to everybody. Don’t go to these areas to see it. We need to make sure those who do this work can do it at the fastest possible speed,” the Governor said.
  2. Second, give blood. “We were already pretty short with COVID out there. We’re going to have a lot of deaths, but we are also going to have a lot of injuries,” the Governor said.
  3. The Governor added: “Third, we have set up a single fund connected with the state that people who want to help – in Kentucky and out of the state – can give to. It is solely dedicated to helping the on-the-ground efforts going on right now and the relief efforts these families are going to need to rebuild. The Team Western Kentucky Tornado Relief Fund is now live at”

Earlier today, the Governor immediately declared a state of emergency and activated over 180 Kentucky National Guard members as well as the Kentucky State Police. The state also is using armories as places of refuge for Kentuckians in need of shelter.

State workers are on the ground to help clear roadways and debris.

The Governor held four media briefings today in Frankfort, Mayfield, Dawson Springs and Bowling Green. To read today’s earlier news release click here. The release includes information on the Governor’s requests for the Federal Emergency Declaration and issuing an Executive Order prohibiting price gouging.


President Biden also spoke with Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson, Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker, Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear, Missouri Governor Mike Parson, and Tennessee Governor Bill Lee to express his condolences for the lives lost and the damage impacting their states as a result of the tornadoes and extreme weather overnight. The President asked each Governor what his state needs and how he can be most supportive. The President expressed his commitment to delivering assistance as quickly as possible to impacted areas via FEMA. The President asked the Governors to call him directly if there is any Federal support they need and said he will remain focused on doing everything he can to help communities recover from the effects of this historic storm. The President was joined on the call by FEMA Administrator Deanne Criswell, Homeland Security Advisor Liz Sherwood-Randall, Deputy Chief of Staff Jen O’Malley Dillon, and White House Director of Intergovernmental Affairs Julie Chavez Rodriguez.


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