WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Federal disaster funds were authorized today to help communities in New Mexico recover from the effects of recent floods in the western part the state, 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 facilities resulting from severe storms and flooding that occurred over the period of July 16-August 7.
Immediately after the President's action, Witt designated the counties of Dona Ana, Luna, Mora, Rio Arriba, San Juan, Sandoval, Sierra and the Mescalero Indian Reservation eligible for federal funding to affected local governments. He indicated that additional jurisdictions may be qualified for assistance later if requested and warranted by 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 funds also will be available to the state on a cost-shared basis for approved projects that reduce future disaster risks.
Joe D. Bray, of FEMA's regional office in Denton, Texas, was named by Witt to coordinate the federal relief effort. Bray 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.