Governor Kelly issues new disaster declaration to get resources to communities faster

Capitol Bureau

Medical supplies are seen at the TCF Center, Monday, April 6, 2020, in Detroit. The White House said Monday, April 6, that some states are requesting far more medical supplies than they need to fight the coronavirus pandemic, pushing back against criticism that the distribution of vital equipment has been chaotic. (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)

TOPEKA, Kan. (KSNT) – Kansas Governor Laura Kelly issued a new disaster declaration last Wednesday, causing the current declaration to expire last Friday.

The new declaration, which expires May 15, activates the state’s Response and Recovery portions of the Kansas Response Plan, said Angee Morgan, deputy director of Kansas Division of Emergency Management.

This declaration also allows the state government to move resources to local communities more quickly, Morgan said.

These resources include supplies, personal protective equipment, shelters for first responders or beef packing plant employees to stay separated from their families to prevent potential spread of the virus, additional staff for prisons, and meals for food banks and pantries.

Each county requests resources they need to the state through their county emergency manager to the State Emergency Operations Center, Morgan said.

The state then sees if they can support the request, and if so will deliver it to the county.

“We look to see what need fits their gap, and then we find that resource and then we send that out through their county that way,” Morgan said. “It’s really comprehensive, it’s a state-wide team. It’s not just about the Kansas Division of Emergency Management, it’s about our state team.”

This comes after the state received its final shipment of supplies from the federal government, something Morgan said was challenging.

Now, the resources are supplied by local and state partners, volunteer agencies, and private donors, according to Morgan.

If resources become limited, the state will have to prioritize which communities receive them by the greater need. This process to request resources is the same for every hazard to ensure nothing goes unnoticed, Morgan said.

The declaration also allows the state to make deployments and reassign state employees to more demanding positions.

The current declaration expires May 15, a deadline that must be extended in order to continue supplying communities, Morgan said.

The State Finance Council can make the decision as to whether to allow this extension, and it must be concurrently approved by the Kansas State Senate and House of Representatives.

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