WASHINGTON, D.C. The head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) announced that federal disaster aid for Utah was ordered by President Clinton today to supplement tornado recovery efforts Salt Lake City.
FEMA Director James Lee Witt said President Clinton authorized the assistance this afternoon under a major disaster declaration issued for the state at the request of Gov. Michael O. Leavitt. The declaration covers damage from last Wednesday's tornado that barreled through downtown Salt Lake City.
Witt said the President's action makes federal funding available to help meet the recovery needs of affected residents and business owners in Salt Lake County, including Salt Lake City. Witt designated the area eligible for federal assistance following the declaration.
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 federal funds will be provided for the state and affected local government agencies to pay 75 percent of the eligible cost for debris removal, emergency services related to the tornado, and restoring damaged public facilities. The declaration also makes cost-shared funding available to the state for approved projects that reduce future disaster risks.
Steve L. Olsen of FEMA's regional office in Denver, was named by Witt to coordinate the federal relief effort. Olsen said affected residents and business owners 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 Tuesday, August 17 from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. (CT) seven days a week until further notice.