Washington, DC -- The head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) announced today that federal disaster aid was made available to help people in five southern Ohio counties recover from the effects of recent heavy rains.
FEMA Director James Lee Witt said President Clinton authorized the assistance under a major disaster declaration issued for the state this afternoon. The declaration covers damage to private property from severe storms and flooding that occurred from February 18 through March 2.
Immediately after the President's action, Witt designated the counties of Adams, Gallia, Lawrence, Meigs and Scioto eligible for federal funding to supplement the recovery needs of stricken residents and business owners. The declaration also makes cost-shared funding available to the state for approved projects that reduce future disaster risks.
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 (SBA) also are available to cover residential and business losses not fully compensated by insurance.
Witt indicated that additional designations may be made later if requested by the state and warranted by the results of further damage assessments. He named Brad Gair of FEMA to coordinate the federal relief effort.
Gair said residents and business owners who sustained losses in the five designated counties 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 telephone numbers will be available starting Wednesday, March 8, from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. (ET) Monday through Saturday until further notice.
Gair emphasized that those who already have registered with the SBA for loan applications still must call the toll-free telephone numbers to register with FEMA to be eligible for federal and state assistance programs.