Washington, DC -- The head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) announced today that federal disaster aid has been made available for Idaho to help families and businesses recover from the effects of wildfires that have burned more than a million acres of land since July 27.
FEMA Director James Lee Witt said President Clinton ordered the assistance under a major disaster declaration issued this afternoon following a review of the agency's analysis of the state's request for federal relief submitted yesterday.
Immediately after the President's declaration, Witt designated the following jurisdictions eligible for federal aid to affected residents and business owners: Bannock, Boise, Clearwater, Elmore, Idaho, Jerome, Lemhi, Lewis and Power counties, and the Fort Hall Indian Reservation.
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. Funding also will be provided to pay unemployment benefits for those who normally do not qualify for state compensation.
In addition, low-interest loans from the U.S. Small Business Administration will be available to cover residential and business losses not fully compensated by insurance, including business economic losses.
Under the declaration, Witt said the state also is eligible for federal funds on a cost-share basis for approved projects that reduce future disaster risks. He indicated that more counties and additional forms of aid for state and local government agencies may be made available later if requested and warranted by the results of further damage assessments.
William Lokey of FEMA was named by Witt to coordinate the federal relief effort. Lokey said residents and business owners who sustained losses in the designated jurisdictions 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, September 2, from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. seven days a week until further notice.