MISSOURI -- The head of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security's Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) announced last week that federal disaster aid has been made available for the state of Missouri to supplement state and local recovery efforts in the area struck by the severe ice storm of Jan. 27.
FEMA Public Information Officer Mike Wade was in The South Missouri News office Feb. 19. "The assistance was authorized under a major disaster declaration for the state by President Obama. The President's action makes federal funding available to state and local governments and certain non-profit organizations on a cost-sharing basis for emergency work and the repair or replacement of facilities damaged by the ice storm," he said.
Oregon County Emergency Preparedness Director Eric King said this involves 20 counties in southern Missouri, including Oregon County.
"At this time we have not reached a final total of damage for the county. As of last week it was approximately $8.8 million. We will be having a meeting with FEMA next week and receive some more information," he said.
The way King said he understands the emergency assistance right now, it will be only for public facilities such as schools, county and city road work and debris removal done by the county and cities within the county. "At this time we don't know if private assistance will become available or not. We will just have to wait and see," King said.
Thomas Hall has been named as the Federal Coordinating Officer for federal recovery operations in Oregon County. Hall said that additional designations may be made at a later date if requested by the state and warranted by the results of further damage assessments.
Wade said in the Oregon County area it appears that the most assistance needed by FEMA is debris removal and electrical assistance.
"Our next step will be to set up meetings with state and federal officials to lay out the ground rules to what projects will be needed as local assistance," Wade said.
"Thayer seems to have taken a pretty hard hit concerning debris. There are still a lot of limbs and trees that need to be removed," Wade said.
Following is a summary of key federal disaster aid programs that can be made available as needed and warranted under President Obama's major disaster declaration issued for Missouri and Oregon County. This is only for state and local governments.
* Payment of not less than 75 percent of the costs for repairing or replacing damaged public facilities, such as bridges, roads, utilities, schools, recreational areas and similar publically owned property, as well as certain non-profit organizations engaged in community service activities.
* Payment of not less than 75 percent of the eligible costs for removing debris from public areas and for emergency measures taken to save lives and protect property and public health.
* Payment of not more than 75 percent of the approved costs for hazard mitigation projects undertaken by state and local governments to prevent or reduce long-term to life and property from natural disasters to technologies disasters.
"Application procedures for local governments will be explained at a series of federal/state applicant briefings with locations to be announced in the county by recovery officials. Approved public repair projects are paid through the state from funding provided by FEMA and other federal agencies," Wade said.