WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Federal disaster funds were approved today to help communities in ten northern Wisconsin counties recover from the effects of storms and other extreme weather that struck the area last month, according to the head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).
FEMA Director James Lee Witt said the aid was authorized under President Clinton's major disaster declaration issued for the state this afternoon because of damage to public property resulting from severe thunderstorms, straight-line winds and flooding that occurred over the period of July 4-31.
Immediately after the President's action, Witt designated the counties of Ashland, Bayfield, Douglas, Florence, Iron, Oneida, Price, Rusk, Sawyer and Vilas eligible for federal funds to supplement the recovery needs of affected local governments. He indicated that additional designations may be made later based on the results of further damage assessments.
Under the declaration, Witt said the federal government will pay 75 percent of the approved costs for debris removal, emergency services related to the disaster, and restoring damaged public property, such as roads, buildings and utilities. Federal funding also will be available to the state on a cost-shared basis for approved projects that reduce future disaster risks.
Tom Davies of FEMA was named by Witt to serve as the federal coordinating officer for the relief effort. Davies 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.