CHICAGO, Ill. -- As a result of President Clinton's January 15 emergency declaration to provide financial aid to communities for their snow removal, state and federal officials are beginning to work with local government to ensure an efficient reimbursement of funds.
The Indiana State Emergency Management Agency (SEMA) , the state agency that administers Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) funds will start holding information briefings on Friday, January 29. Potential eligible community officials have been contacted about specific locations, and times for the sessions have been finalized.
At each briefing, state and federal representatives will answer any questions that local officials may have about the assistance program and explain what costs are eligible and how to compile them. They will also provide information on reporting equipment and personnel information and on payment procedures.
"By helping the communities with their emergency costs, we are helping every taxpayer in that area," Lawrence L. Bailey, federal coordinating officer for FEMA, said. "However, the emergency declaration does not cover snow removal expenses for individuals or business owners."
Forty-seven counties in Indiana were designated for federal assistance because they had received a "record" or "near record" snowfall. The eligible counties include Adams, Allen, Benton, Blackford, Cass, Clay, Clinton, DeKalb, Delaware, Fountain, Fulton, Grant, Hamilton, Hancock, Hendricks, Henry, Huntington, Jasper, Jay, Johnson, Kosciusko, Lake, Lagrange, LaPorte, Madison, Marion, Marshall, Miami, Montgomery, Newton, Noble, Porter, Pulaski, Randolph, Rush, St. Joseph, Shelby, Starke, Steuben, Tipton, Tippecanoe, Vermillion, Wabash, Warren, Wayne, White and Whitley.
Under the presidential emergency disaster declaration, affected local governments and certain private non-profit organizations in these counties are eligible to apply for federal assistance to fund 75 percent of the approved costs, during a 48-hour period, for snow removal equipment operations, contract personnel and equipment, and overtime for permanent personnel. Related emergency protective measures such as sanding and salting, search and rescue, shelter operations, and police and fire departments' response may also be eligible for reimbursement.
SEMA and FEMA representatives both stressed the importance of communities' record keeping in this type of declaration where federal funds will reimburse specific local costs. Having accurate, well-documented time records for equipment and personnel will speed up the reimbursement process," Patrick P. Ralston, state coordinating officer for SEMA, said.
FEMA will provide reimbursement through SEMA to governmental units, communities, and certain private non-profit organizations for 75 percent of the total eligible costs. Local governments will assume the remaining non-federal share of costs. "The emergency declaration provides funding for a 48-hour period," Bailey explained. "Community officials will be able to designate the 48-hour period to be used for their respective emergency snow removal assistance."