Disaster declared as Harvey County cleans up after storm

Chad Frey
The Kansan
A storm passed through Newton June 25 and 26, leaving downed tree limbs and damage in its wake.

The Harvey County Commission passed a resolution July 6 declaring a state of disaster as the result of a storm that swept through the area June 25. 

If the county can account for more than $135,000 in uninsured damages, the county can file for assistance.

"We have spoken with the Kansas Department of Emergency Management and we do believe that Harvey County is capable of meeting the the threshold," said Gary Denny, director of emergency management for Harvey County. 

Denny does not have an estimate of damages, as cleanup work continues throughout the county. 

"Our biggest townships will have a lot of road damage and tree removal will be quite extensive," Denny said. "With those damages, and [advice of] the representative from the Kansas Department of Emergency management, we truly believe we can meet our threshold." There is a wait-and-see attitude at work, as while the county has declared a disaster others would need to follow suit in the days to come for the county to become eligible for any federal programs.

That is because for FEMA to become involved, there is a threshold for damage that must be met at the state level.  For the state to eligible for federal aid, damages must hit more than $4 million statewide. 

"What we are waiting for now is if there are other counties in the state of Kansas where we can meet the state threshold," Denny said. 

It is unclear if other counties will file. The city of Newton has been picking up tree limbs and storm damaged materials for about a week, hauling tons of materials away each day as crews work their way around the city.

The declaration approved July 6 will be in effect for seven days, It can be extended if needed.