Washington, DC -- Federal disaster aid was made available for Alabama today to help families and businesses in the counties of Jefferson and Tuscaloosa recover from severe storms and flooding that hit the area last weekend, according to the head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).
FEMA Director James Lee Witt said the assistance was authorized under a major disaster declaration issued for the state by President Clinton this afternoon. The declaration covers damage to private property from the storms and flooding that occurred March 10-11.
Under the declaration, Witt said affected residents in Jefferson and Tuscaloosa counties can apply for federal assistance that includes 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.
Witt, who designated the counties eligible for assistance following the declaration, said federal funds also will be available to the state on a cost-shared basis for approved projects that reduce future disaster risks. He indicated that additional designations may be made later if requested by the state and warranted by the results of further damage assessments.
Charles M. Butler of FEMA was named by Witt to coordinate the federal relief effort. Butler said residents and business owners who sustained losses in the 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 toll-free telephone numbers will be available starting Saturday, March 18 from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. seven days a week until further notice.