Washington, DC -- Federal disaster aid was made available today to help communities in five South Dakota counties recover from the effects of a late winter storm that struck the southwestern part of the last month, according to the head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).
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 public property from the severe storm, flooding, landslides and mudslides that occurred April 18-20.
Under the declaration, federal funds will be provided for the state and affected local governments to pay 75 percent of the eligible cost for debris removal, emergency services related to the disaster and restoring damaged public facilities in the counties of Custer, Fall River, Jackson, Pennington and Shannon. Funding also will be available to the state on a cost-shared basis for approved projects that reduce future disaster risks.
Witt, who designated the counties eligible for assistance following the declaration, indicated that additional designations may be made later if requested and warranted by the results of further damage assessments. He named Steven Emory of FEMA to serve as the federal coordinating officer for the recovery effort.
Emory said that procedures for requesting assistance will be explained at a series of applicant briefings at locations to be announced shortly in the affected areas.