Washington, DC -- The head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) announced today that federal disaster aid has been made available to help communities in six northwest Louisiana parishes recover from the effects of crippling ice storms that began last month.
FEMA Director James Lee Witt said President Clinton authorized the assistance under a major disaster declaration issued early this evening following a review of the agency's analysis of the state's request for federal relief submitted yesterday. The declaration covers damage to public property from the storms that occurred over the period of December 11, 2000 through January 3, 2001.
Immediately after the President's action, Witt designated the following parishes eligible for federal funding to supplement the recovery needs of affected local governments: Bienville, Caddo, Claiborne, Lincoln, Union and Webster.
Under the declaration, Witt said the federal government will pay 75 percent of the eligible costs for debris removal, emergency services related to the storms and restoring damaged public facilities. The declaration also makes funding available to the state on a cost-shared basis for approved projects that reduce future disaster risks.
Witt indicated that more parishes and additional forms of assistance may be designated later if requested and warranted by the results of further damage assessments. He named Carlos N. Mitchell of FEMA to coordinate the federal relief effort.
Mitchell 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.