COLUMBIA, S.C. -- State and federal disaster officials will begin to work with local governments this week to ensure an efficient reimbursement of federal funds as a result of President Clinton's January 31 disaster declaration to provide financial aid to communities in 38 counties following last month's severe winter storms.
The South Carolina Emergency Preparedness Division (SCEPD), the state agency that administers Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) funds, will start holding information briefings tomorrow for eligible community officials and representatives from certain private non-profit organizations.
State and federal representatives will be available at each briefing to answer any questions that local officials may have about the assistance program, explain what community costs are eligible and discuss how those costs should be submitted for reimbursement. They will also provide information on reporting equipment and personnel data and on payment procedures.
SCEPD 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," Stan McKinney, SCEPD Director, said.
Thirty-eight counties in South Carolina were designated for federal assistance which will cover 75 percent of the eligible costs for debris removal, emergency services and snow removal, and public utility losses following the severe winter storms, which struck the state between January 22 and February 1.
"By helping the communities with their disaster costs, we are helping every taxpayer in that area," Jim Roche, federal coordinating officer for FEMA, said. "However, the disaster declaration does not cover snow removal expenses or losses for individuals or business owners."
Under the presidential disaster declaration, affected local governments and approved applicants in all 38 designated counties are also eligible to apply for snow removal costs, including equipment operations, sanding and salting, contract personnel and equipment, and overtime for permanent personnel. Related emergency protective measures such as search and rescue, shelter operations, and police and fire departments' response may also be eligible for reimbursement.
"Community officials will be able to designate the continuous 48-hour period to be used for their respective snow removal assistance," Roche said.
The eligible counties include Abbeville, Aiken, Allendale, Bamberg, Barnwell, Berkeley, Calhoun, Charleston, Clarendon, Colleton, Cherokee, Chester, Chesterfield, Darlington, Dillon, Dorchester, Edgefield, Fairfield, Florence, Georgetown, Greenwood, Kershaw, Lancaster, Laurens, Lee, Lexington, Marion, Marlboro, McCormick, Newberry, Orangeburg, Richland, Saluda, Spartanburg, Sumter, Williamsburg, Union and York.
Note to Editors and News Directors: Information on the South Carolina disaster declaration is available on FEMA's homepage at and SCEPD's homepage at http://www.state.sc.us/epd. While the briefings listed below are scheduled to help local officials understand the assistance application process, news media representatives are welcome to attend and observe.