Washington, DC -- Federal disaster aid was made available today for families and businesses in three southeastern Kansas counties victimized by tornadoes and other extreme weather late last month, according to the head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
FEMA Director James Lee Witt said President Clinton ordered the assistance under a major disaster declaration issued for the state this afternoon. The declaration covers damage from severe storms and tornadoes that occurred April 19-20.
Immediately after the President's action, Witt designated the counties of Crawford, Labette and Neosho 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 also will be 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 Louis H. Botta of FEMA to coordinate the federal relief effort.
Botta said affected residents and business owners 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 telephone numbers will be available starting Thursday, May 4, from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. (CT) seven days a week until further notice.