President Barack Obama has approved Governor Steve Beshear's request for an emergency Presidential Disaster Declaration that will assist people in need across the Commonwealth."President Obama called me last night to express his concern about the plight facing our state and many of our people. I appreciate the president's quick response to our request for a disaster declaration," Governor Beshear said as he traveled throughout Western Kentucky to meet with local officials and survey damage to the region. "We will move quickly to bring power generators, communications equipment and debris removal equipment into the region to help restore power and protect our people in their time of need."
Nearly 600,000 customers across Kentucky were without power as of Thursday morning. There were also three fatalities linked to the storms.
This week's storm marks the second largest power outage in the state's history.
As of last night, 68 counties had declared emergencies and 36 cities had declared an emergency as well. In addition, 91 shelters have been opened statewide, Gov. Beshear said.
"It is just astounding that we would have two such widespread, yet very different, disasters within the span of six months," Governor Beshear said. "But, while I am urging folks to be patient as we work to restore power and services, I want them to know that their state government is doing everything possible to ensure their safety and well being during this disaster."
Some 500 National Guardsmen have been activated across the state to help with relief efforts. The Governor has also approved the use of two Blackhawk helicopters to assist the state's largest utility, Kentucky Utilities, with surveying damaged areas and locating downed and damaged transmission lines throughout the state.
Governor Beshear and Attorney General Jack Conway have triggered the state's price gouging statutes to investigate any complaints of price gouging that may occur relative to gas, heating and building supplies in the aftermath of the storm. The same statutes were triggered during the aftermath of Hurricane Ike. General Conway encourages anyone with specific information regarding possible price gouging to contact the Office of the Attorney General at 1-888-432-9257 or to email icestormcomplaints@ag.ky.gov.
Transportation crews were working in 105 of Kentucky's 120 counties to unblock and treat roads. As part of the governor's state emergency order, bucket trucks are being allowed to bypass weigh stations on the interstates to expedite their help in restoring power during the crisis.