Tupelo, MS -- Disaster assistance to Mississippi's 50 tornado-ravaged counties reached $7.9 million in the first month of federal/state recovery efforts as the number of residents applying for state and federal aid exceeded 5,000.
John D. Hannah, coordinator for the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) for this disaster, said 491 individuals and families have been approved for direct grants totaling $1,362,037 to cover uninsured property losses and 1,163 applicants have been approved for housing assistance totaling $1,148,072.
The U. S. Small Business Administration has approved loans totaling $3,571,000. That includes home loans of $2,080,300, business loans of $1,374,600 and $116,100 for economic injury disaster losses.
Leon Shaifer, recovery coordinator for the Mississippi Emergency Management Agency (MEMA), said $50,000 has been approved for crisis counseling for individuals in the declared counties.
There has been $1,844,788 in federally obligated funds for public assistance. This includes such things as debris removal, protective measures and repair or replacement of damaged roads and bridges, water facilities and public buildings and utilities. There are 83 eligible governmental entities, special districts and certain private non-profit groups in this category. The filing deadline for these groups is March 23 for central and north Mississippi counties, and April 14 for the eight southern Mississippi counties.
FEMA's toll-free registration number is 1-800-462-9029 (the number for the speech or hearing impaired is 1-800-462-7585). The lines are available daily from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., Monday through Saturday, until further notice. The FEMA toll-free Helpline number for those seeking answers to questions concerning their application is 1-800-525-0321 or 1-800-462-7585 for those with hearing or speech impairments.
The deadline for individuals to apply for aid from FEMA/MEMA is April 24.
Disaster recovery centers (DRCs) have helped more than 2,000 disaster victims with information about available programs and the status of their applications. In addition to the four fixed-location DRCs- Pontotoc, Columbus, Hattiesburg and Columbia- a mobile DRC will tour the communities of Laurel, Beaumont, Picayune, Tylertown and Woodville beginning next week.