Washington, DC -- Federal disaster aid was made available today for families and businesses in east-central Missouri victimized by severe thunderstorms and flash flooding that struck the area last weekend, according to the head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).
FEMA Director James Lee Witt said President Clinton ordered the assistance this evening under a major disaster declaration requested by the state earlier today. The declaration covers damage to private property from the storms and flooding that occurred May 6-7.
Immediately after the President's action, Witt designated ten counties eligible for federal assistance to stricken residents and business owners, including Franklin and Jefferson and the contiguous counties of Crawford, Gasconade, St. Charles, Ste. Genevieve, St. Francois, St. Louis, Warren and Washington. 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 aid for state and local government agencies may be made available later if requested by the state and warranted by the results of further damage assessments. He named Peter Martinasco of FEMA to coordinate the federal relief effort.
Martinasco 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 Saturday, May 13, from 8 AM to 6 PM (CT) seven days a week until further notice.