Washington, DC -- The head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) announced today that federal disaster aid has been authorized for tornado victims in northern Mississippi under an amended major disaster declaration issued for the state by President Bush last Friday.
FEMA Director Joe M. Allbaugh said the action requested by the state extends the declaration's eligible incident period to include damage from severe storms and tornadoes that began on February 24. The initial declaration covered damage from severe storms and tornadoes that struck the state on February 16.
Under the amended declaration, Allbaugh said residents and business owners that sustained damage from the February 24 storms are eligible to apply for federal aid in the following counties: Bolivar, Lee, Leflore, Pontotoc, Prentiss and Tallahatchie, and the contiguous counties of Alcorn, Attala, Calhoun, Carroll, Chickasaw, Choctaw, Clay, Coahoma, Grenada, Humphreys, Itawamba, Lafayette, Madison, Monroe, Noxubee, Panola, Quitman, Sunflower, Tippah, Tishomingo, Union, Washington, Webster, Winston, Yalobusha and Yazoo.
The assistance can include grants to help pay for temporary housing, emergency 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.
In addition, Allbaugh said federal funding will be available to affected local governments to pay 75 percent of the approved cost for repairing or replacing damaged public facilities in the counties of Attala, Choctaw, Clay, Noxubee, Winston and Yazoo. He indicated that damage surveys are continuing and additional counties may be designated for assistance later based on the results of the assessments.
Affected residents and business owners can begin the disaster application process by calling 1-800-462-9029, or 1-800-462-7585 for the hearing and speech impaired. The toll-free registration service is available from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. seven days a week until further until further notice.