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Emergency help

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Oregon County will receive funds to help pay for storm cleanup

CLEANUP: Oregon County has been added to the July 21 declaration of emergency. The county will receive funds to help pay for cleanup efforts from the storm that produced straight-line winds up to 80 mph. Photo/Sisk Lawrence

OREGON COUNTY -- Oregon County has been added to President Bush's July 21 declaration of emergency for the state of Missouri.

The president ordered federal aid to supplement state and local recovery efforts on July 21 for the city of St. Louis and six counties in the state. Oregon County was added to the declaration Aug. 16.

Storms producing straight-line winds up to 80 mph ripped through the county July 21 impacting the Thayer/Koshkonong area.

Howell-Oregon Electric Cooperative estimated at one time after the storm passed that as many as 8,000 electrical customers were without power. The electrical company had most of Oregon County's electrical supply back up and operating by 1 p.m. July 23.

The city of Thayer also took a big hit from the storm with 1,000 electrical customers without power. Most of the power in the city was restored by the following afternoon, but some 15 to 20 city of Thayer Electrical Department customers were without electricity the following Monday.

Officials at Thayer City Hall said city crews are still hauling off tree limbs and other debris from the storm.

According to Butch Ducote, a FEMA public affairs officer in St. Louis, the county is now eligible for debris removal assistance and emergency protective measures under the public assistance program. "This will enable the county to receive up to 75 percent of what has been spent due to the emergency," Ducote said.

Ducote said how the process works is when an emergency occurs, such as the July 21 storm, the county emergency directors, Oregon County Emergency Preparedness Director Eric King and Thayer Emergency Preparedness Director Mark Arnold, evaluate the situation and, if they see it is more than they can handle, they notify the state.

"The state works the same way. The State Emergency Management Agency (SEMA) thought the city of St. Louis and the seven other counties named in the president's declaration of emergency deserved more help than local or state agencies are prepared to offer. That's when we (FEMA) step in," Ducote said.

Ducote said FEMA officials will be visiting Oregon County sometime this week.

"This will be holding what we call a kickoff meeting. We will be helping the local emergency personnel submit paperwork. They will have 30 days from the meeting to submit the costs they have suffered," Ducote said.

Arnold said he has been in contact with King and both are preparing the needed information for the FEMA officials' visit this week.

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