WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Federal disaster funds were made available today to assist relief efforts for flooded families and businesses in three rain-swollen Kansas counties, according to the head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).
FEMA Director James Lee Witt said President Clinton authorized the assistance under a major disaster declaration issued this afternoon in response to the state's request for federal help submitted earlier today. The declaration covers damage from severe storms and flooding caused by record rains that drenched the south central portion of the state beginning October 30.
Immediately after the President's action, Witt designated the counties of Butler, Cowley, and Sedgwick eligible for federal funding to supplement the recovery needs of flood-stricken residents and business owners.
The assistance, to be coordinated by FEMA, can include grants to help pay for temporary housing, minor home repairs and other serious disaster-related expenses. Low-interest loans from the U.S. Small Business Administration also will be available to cover residential and business losses not fully compensated by insurance.
Additionally, Witt said the declaration makes cost-shared funding available to the state for approved projects that reduce future disaster risks. He indicated that more counties and additional forms of assistance for state and local government agencies may be designated later as receding floodwaters allow damage assessments to continue.
Carolyn J. Coleman, of FEMA's regional office in Kansas City, Mo., was named by Witt to coordinate the federal relief effort. Coleman said residents and business owners who sustained losses in the designated counties can begin the disaster application process by calling 1-800-462-9029, or 1-800-462-7585 (TTY) for the hearing and speech impaired. The toll-free telephone numbers will be available starting Friday, November 6, from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. (CT) seven days a week until further notice.