March 17, 2011

Governor, U.S. Senators Request Major Disaster Declaration for Scotland County, Much of Missouri

Estimated cost of response tops $14 million; snow accumulations were as high as 23 inches
In like a lion out like a lamb - Missouri entered the month of March with a roar as Governor Jay Nixon as well as United States senators Claire McCaskill and Roy Blunt requested a major disaster declaration for the state of Missouri from President Barack Obama, as a result of the severe winter storm that hit the state on January 31 and February 1.

The storm deposited up to 23 inches of snow in the state, closed I-70 between St. Louis and Kansas City and I-44 from Springfield to Oklahoma, and saddled local and state governments with costs estimated at more than $14 million for removal of the record or near-record snowfall.

"The Blizzard of 2011 created dangerous white-out conditions, forced the closure of interstates, and left many of the state's roads impassable for several days," Governor Nixon said. "I am asking the President to issue a major disaster declaration so that communities burdened with the extremely high costs for emergency protective measures and snow removal can recover some of their expenditures."

The Governor's request follows joint damage assessments conducted by local, state and federal officials at the request of 64 counties. The assessments show that from January 31 to February 5, the estimated cost of the response and recovery efforts in those counties exceeded $14 million.

Gov. Nixon's request for public assistance is for the following counties: Adair, Andrew, Audrain, Barton, Bates, Benton, Boone, Buchanan, Caldwell, Callaway, Camden, Carroll, Cass, Cedar, Chariton, Clark, Clay, Clinton, Cole, Cooper, Dade, Dallas, DeKalb, Grundy, Henry, Hickory, Howard, Jackson, Johnson, Knox, Laclede, Lafayette, Lewis, Linn, Livingston, Macon, Madison, Maries, Marion, McDonald, Miller, Moniteau, Monroe, Montgomery, Morgan, Newton, Osage, Pettis, Pike, Platte, Polk, Pulaski, Putnam, Ralls, Randolph, Ray, St Clair, Saline, Schuyler, Scotland, Shelby, Sullivan, Vernon and Worth. The Governor's request noted that of these counties, 52 had record or near-record snow accumulations from the storm.

In advance of the historic storm, Gov. Nixon on Jan. 31 declared a state of emergency for all of Missouri. The order activated the Missouri State Emergency Operations Plan, which allowed state agencies to assist local jurisdictions with emergency preparation and response.

The Governor also activated 600 members of the Missouri National Guard on Jan. 31 before the storm hit, so they were deployed around the state to provide help where it was needed most, and directed that emergency generators be pre-positioned around the state. That same day, the Missouri State Highway Patrol positioned four-wheel drive vehicles to maximize response capabilities. Guard members assisted stranded motorists and transported emergency response personnel over snow-packed roads to assist those with life-safety needs across the state for several days.

The impact the storm had on many Missouri counties was so significant that the Governor issued Executive Order 11-05, ordering the Missouri Department of Transportation to assist local jurisdictions with clearing roads so that critical life-safety services could be restored.

During the brunt of the storm on Feb. 1, Gov. Nixon spent several hours at the State Emergency Operations Center to receive continuous updates from state and local emergency response officials.

U.S. Senators Claire McCaskill and Roy Blunt sent a letter to President Obama urging him to grant Governor Jay Nixon's request. Specifically, the Governor has requested Public Assistance (including snow removal) for 62 affected counties, Public Assistance (not including snow removal) for two counties, and Hazard Mitigation grant assistance for the entire state. The senators stressed that federal assistance is essential to help Missouri communities recover from the severe winter storms.

"In light of the multiple disasters that have affected our state in the past twelve months, it is our hope that you will grant Governor Nixon's request in a prompt manner, to help state and local governments recover from this most recent disaster," the senators wrote.

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