Governor declares state of emergency in Kentucky ahead of dangerous storms
Gov. Andy Beshear briefed Kentuckians Friday morning ahead of severe storms that are expected to produce damaging winds, isolated tornadoes and excessive rainfall across much of the state and declared a state of emergency.
According to the National Weather Service, strong to severe storms are possible between noon and 5 p.m. EST, ahead of and along a cold front. Damaging winds, in addition to severe storms, are expected today, and the strongest winds are expected during the afternoon and early evening. The heaviest rainfall totals are expected north of the Western Kentucky and Bluegrass parkways. A tornado watch is in effect for most of Western Kentucky. Isolated hail up to the size of a quarter is possible. A flood watch is in effect across Southern Indiana and portions of Central Kentucky.
“We have been through so much and lost too many Kentuckians to severe weather; we don’t want to lose anyone else. Please make a plan and prepare for today’s expected weather events,” Gov. Beshear said. “Emergency management, communications, transportation, energy and environment staff are activated and monitoring the storms at our Emergency Operations Center. We also have the Kentucky National Guard and Kentucky State Police ready to respond.”
The Governor asked Kentuckians to avoid calling 911 for traffic and weather updates. The Kentucky State Police requests that if you see or suspect that someone is stranded on the roadways, contact KSP at 800-222-5555.
The Governor also activated the state’s price gouging laws to protect families from grossly overpriced goods and services. With the state of emergency in place, consumers in the commonwealth can report price gouging to the Office of the Attorney General. Under state law, price gougers can be held accountable.
Kentucky Emergency Management Director Jeremy Slinker joined the Governor in urging Kentuckians to prepare now for the pending storms.
“It's time to put our ‘Severe Weather Awareness Week’ plans into action,” Director Slinker said. “Make sure that if you have to travel, you have an emergency kit in your car, and that you have an emergency kit at home filled with food, water, first aid kits, batteries and rain gear. And always remember, if you see a road that’s flooded: Turn around and don’t drown.”
Director Slinker also reminded Kentuckians to never put generators indoors and to use them 8-10 feet outside of their residence where there’s no chance of carbon monoxide poisoning.
The Governor said that the Personnel Cabinet provided guidance to state employees last night urging telework when possible. Earlier this morning, state employees were notified that state office buildings would close at 11 a.m. EST to make sure employees have time to get home safely. Many state employees will still be working remotely to make sure critical government services remain available.
The Governor thanked the school districts that closed schools for the day so students, teachers and school staff could stay safe at home. He also thanked local officials and emergency management leaders for taking action locally to prepare for the storms.
“For the Kentuckians who have already been through so much, I know that these secondary events could cause more emotional distress,” Gov. Beshear said. “If you need help or someone to talk to, we want to encourage you to call or text the Disaster Distress Helpline at 800-985-5990.”
The Disaster Distress Helpline is a 24/7, year-round, confidential crisis counseling and emotional support resource for survivors, responders and anyone in the U.S./territories struggling with distress or other mental health concerns related to any natural or human-caused disaster.
For additional preparedness tips, visit kyem.ky.gov.