WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Federal disaster aid has been made available to help communities in nine northern Alabama counties recover from the crippling winter storm that hit the state late last year, according to the head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).
FEMA Director James Lee Witt said President Clinton authorized the assistance requested by the state under a major disaster declaration issued this afternoon. The declaration covers damage to public property from the storm that lashed the area with freezing rain and ice over the period of December 23-29.
The nine counties designated for aid by Witt following the declaration include Colbert, Cullman, Franklin, Lauderdale, Lawrence, Limestone, Madison, Marion and Morgan.
Witt said the state and local governments in these counties are eligible to apply for federal funding to pay 75 percent of the approved cost for debris removal, emergency services related to the storm, and restoring damaged public facilities. The declaration also makes cost-shared funding available to the state for approved projects that reduce future disaster risks.
Witt indicated additional counties and other forms of federal assistance may be designated later if requested and warranted by the results of further damage assessments.
Glenn C. Woodard, Jr., of FEMA's regional office in Atlanta, Ga., was named by Witt to coordinate the federal relief effort. Woodard said that procedures for requesting assistance will be explained at a series of applicant briefings at locations to be announced shortly in the affected areas.