RICHMOND, Va. -- The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the Virginia Department of Emergency Services (VDES) have opened a disaster field office here to support local governments in recovering from two severe winter storms that occurred in January.
The office will serve as a temporary operations center for state and federal officials who will gather information to reimburse qualified local jurisdictions, electric cooperatives and state agencies for a portion of damage costs under FEMA's Public Assistance Program.
President Clinton declared 103 Virginia jurisdictions eligible to apply for the Public Assistance Program funds on Feb. 28. The declaration was requested by Gov. Jim Gilmore following two storms that occurred within a week of each other. On Jan. 28 a storm produced record-breaking snowfall in many areas of the state. A second storm that coated much of the Commonwealth in heavy ice struck on Jan. 30.
Under the declaration, FEMA's Public Assistance Program was granted. This program will allow jurisdictions to apply for reimbursement for emergency work performed during the storm including the cost of abrasive materials and salt for roadways, debris removal and emergency protective measures. Funds to repair qualified utilities in declared jurisdictions will also be available. Under the program, FEMA will provide 75% of the share of eligible costs. State and local governments are responsible for the remaining 25%.
Federal officials said eligibility for jurisdictions to be included in the declaration is based on record or near-record snowfall, and the widespread economic impact caused by the storms.
Additionally, FEMA's Hazard Mitigation program was approved and will provide funding to help prevent future disasters. The Virginia Department of Emergency Services administers the two programs.