TOPEKA (KSNT) – Recovery efforts continue following the widespread storm and wildfire damage that wrecked havoc across much of Kansas.
The Kansas Department of Health and Environment and the Kansas Department of Agriculture are offering resources for Kansans recovering from storm or wildfire damage. The KDHE and KDA can assist by answering questions related to the removal of building debris or animal carcasses.
Both Secretary of Agriculture Mike Beam and Animal Health Commissioner Dr. Justin Smith visited local officials, farmers and ranchers on Monday, Dec. 20, in several Kansas communities affected by storm or wildfire damage.
“Kansans — and farmers and ranchers in particular — are resilient,” Secretary Beam said. “Even in the best of times, they endure under forces they can’t control and keep working day-in and day-out to care for their livestock and to harvest their crops. This disaster will certainly test that resilience to the limit, but the communities which surround these individuals will continue to support them and will help them persevere.”
The total impact of the storm and wildfire damage is difficult to quantify, according to a recent release from the KDA, due to its many layers. The wildfire swept through four counties and burned over a hundred thousand acres in northwest Kansas, causing a huge amount of damage to crops, cattle and homes. However, many other smaller fires occurred across the state as well, affecting many Kansas residents.
The high winds, dust and ash spread by the storm has also affected crops that were planted for next year. The full extent of such damage is not entirely known yet. Many agricultural entities were damaged across the state too, such as greenhouses and wind tunnels, that help with crop production.
Over a thousand cattle were estimated to have been lost in the fires with thousands more displaced with the loss of the grassland to sustain them.
“Ranchers are now focused on the health and welfare of the cattle who have survived,” Dr. Smith said. “They may still see health decline due to exposure to smoke and heat, but most should recover. The majority of those cattle will need to move to other locations, though, because the grazing land destroyed in the fire won’t grow back for several months.”
To request forms or assistance with completing forms, Kansans are encouraged to contact the county KDHE district office, county Emergency Manager or the KDHE Bureau of Waste Management at (785) 296-1600. Links to common forms used to dispose of disaster debris can be found on the KDHE website here.