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Federal Disaster Area: Declaration Means You Can Get Federal Help

PHOTO: Denvil Crowe

LOUISVILLE, Miss.–Winston County is one of seven in Mississippi declared a federal disaster area by Pres. Obama Wednesday. Gov. Bryant announced that means if you were affected by the storms Monday, you could get help from the Individual Assistance Program. The six other counties are Itawamba, Lee, Lowndes, Madison, Rankin, and Wayne.

Bryant requested the expedited declaration from the president on April 29, and Mississippi’s congressional delegation on Wednesday sent a letter to the president in support of the governor’s request.

“We have experienced tragic loss of life as a result of these storms and tornadoes, and many Mississippians have lost their homes and all that they own,” said Bryant. “We have a strong working relationship with our partners at the local and federal levels, and I appreciate Senators Thad Cochran and Roger Wicker and the Mississippi congressional delegation for aiding in this quick response from the federal government. This assistance will help Mississippi do what it does best—rebuild and rebound in the face of adversity.”

Individual Assistance is aid provided to individuals and households and can include housing assistance, unemployment assistance, and money to replace damaged or destroyed belongings.

The same counties are also eligible for certain types of aid through FEMA’s Public Assistance program. FEMA’s Public Assistance program administers aid to state and local governments and certain non-profit organizations. Through this program, costs incurred since April 28 by the eligible counties, governments and non-profits could be reimbursed by FEMA through its 75 percent cost-sharing program.

The Public Assistance aid available at this time includes assistance in Categories A and B. FEMA Category A Public Assistance includes 75 percent reimbursement for eligible costs incurred from removing and disposing of storm debris from public properties and rights of way. FEMA Category B Public Assistance includes 75 percent reimbursement for eligible emergency work, including actions to prevent threats to life and property and overtime incurred by emergency responders.

Mississippi also received approval to administer FEMA’s Hazard Mitigation Program. This program provides assistance for actions that reduce the risk to life and property from natural hazards.

As more thorough damage assessments are completed by state and federal inspection teams, additional categories of assistance, such as aid in repairing or replacing public buildings and aid in repairing damaged roads, may be added. Further damage assessments could also warrant an updated request from the state to extend Individual Assistance and Public Assistance aid to additional counties.

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