Senate Republican Leader McConnell announces major support for disaster relief

The Fiscal Year 2022 Government Funding bill includes resources to support Western Kentucky

WASHINGTON, D.C. (WTVQ/Press Release) – U.S. Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) announced today this year’s Fiscal Year 2022 Government Funding bill contains significant resources to support Kentuckians recovering from the five Presidentially Declared Disasters that hit the Commonwealth in 2020 and 2021, including December’s devastating tornado outbreak in Western Kentucky.

Following December’s tornado outbreak, Senator McConnell visited several communities damaged by the storm and met with those impacted, including local leaders and volunteers. The Senator listened to their requests for assistance and used his position as a senior member of the Senate Appropriations Committee to secure significant federal help. The funding measure providing that assistance now goes to the President for his signature.

“Last year’s devastating tornado outbreak was one of the worst disasters to ever hit Kentucky. The rebuilding process will take months and years, and I am committed to providing consistent government resources to help complete our recovery,” said Senator McConnell. “This year’s federal funding bill will take an enormous financial burden off Kentucky’s impacted communities, allowing them to focus their attention and budgets on rebuilding. It will also provide critical support for our farmers at a time when they need it most.”

The legislation requires the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to increase their disaster response cost-sharing from 75% to 90% of all costs associated with five disasters that have hit the Commonwealth since 2020. Kentucky communities recovering from those disasters will only need to cover 10% of response and rebuilding costs, alleviating a major strain on local resources. Senator McConnell secured these extra resources after touring damaged areas and hearing directly from Kentuckians about the need for additional help from the federal government.

The bill directs the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to identify funding streams to build temporary ground storage facilities for grain at public and private inland waterway ports. December’s tornado outbreak destroyed numerous grain storage facilities in Western Kentucky and, in preparation for the 2022 harvest season, there is a critical need for new storage capacity.

The legislation also includes language directing the USDA to prioritize consideration of areas in Western Kentucky for the $40 million in funding provided to the Community Facilities Grant Program, which grants resources to rural areas to improve utility services, such as broadband and wastewater, and facilities, including hospitals, fire departments, and libraries.

“The leadership of Mayfield and every local government in western Kentucky can now breathe easier knowing that thanks to Senator McConnell, the federal government will cover 90% of disaster relief costs. Personally, I am so very grateful to my Senator, Mitch McConnell, who has come through with this promise he made to me just days after that devastating tornado: ‘We will make sure you have everything you need to get through this.’ This action certainly is a giant step toward the recovery and rebuilding of my city and a large portion of the Commonwealth,” said Mayfield Mayor Kathy O’Nan.

“Although we have relatively few natural disasters in Kentucky, they always cause serious complications and tremendous expense to local communities. We appreciate the help we receive through FEMA, but usually, after they reimburse local governments for their percentage, counties are still left with an overwhelming expense. And sometimes these cumulative back-to-back disasters can be devastating, with long-lasting implications. The flooding and tornadoes of 2021 have proven to be devastating for many counties and cities. Local communities need a friend in Washington. We could have no better friend and advocate than U.S. Senator Mitch McConnell. On behalf of the people of Bowling Green and Warren County, we deeply appreciate Senator McConnell and his constant concern for us, and for all the people of Kentucky. I will forever be grateful for his friendship,” said Warren County Judge-Executive Mike Buchanon.

“A FEMA 90% cost-share is huge for Hopkins County. After being hit by a devastating tornado, the financial burden on the county was almost unbearable. We truly appreciate the assistance and leadership Senator McConnell provides on a daily basis. I want to thank Leader McConnell and the rest of the Kentucky delegation for looking out for the people of Hopkins County,” said Hopkins County Judge-Executive Jack Whitfield.

“Since Taylor county was hit twice by tornadoes in just the past few months, these provisions will be especially beneficial. I’d like to personally thank Senator McConnell for listening to our unique needs and providing this additional assistance,” said Taylor County Judge-Executive Barry Smith.

“The increase in FEMA’s reimbursement to our city from 75% to 90% will be a financial lifesaver for the City of Bowling Green and its taxpayers in covering the costs of the tornadoes that devastated our region last December. We are truly grateful for Senator McConnell’s work to include this provision in this year’s government funding bill. The Senator has shown tremendous concern through his multiple visits since December 11th to Bowling Green and his actions on our behalf,” said Bowling Green City Manager Jeff Meisel.

Senator McConnell has been in close contact with state and local officials since December’s tornado outbreak, listening to their concerns and including their input in today’s legislative accomplishments. Along with the rest of Kentucky’s congressional delegation, he supported the Governor’s multiple federal disaster relief requests to the President. He also created a web portal to help Kentuckians access federal resources.

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