Washington, DC -- Federal disaster aid has been made available for Kansas to supplement the recovery needs of families and businesses in Barton County victimized by violent storms and the fierce tornado that ravaged the city of Hoisington last weekend, according to the head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).
FEMA Director Joe M. Allbaugh said President Bush ordered the assistance this afternoon after the agency reported that the F4 twister had destroyed or heavily damaged more than 230 homes and caused some degree of loss to another 335 dwellings. The President's major disaster declaration covers damage from severe storms, hail, flooding and tornadoes that hit the area starting April 21.
Allbaugh, who designated Barton County eligible for aid following the declaration, said assistance for stricken individuals and families 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.
Additionally, federal funds will be provided for the state and affected local governments in the county to pay 75 percent of the eligible cost for debris removal, emergency services related to the disaster and restoring damaged public facilities. The declaration also makes cost-shared funding available to the state for approved projects that reduce future disaster risks.
Carlos Mitchell of FEMA was named by Allbaugh to serve as the federal coordinating officer for the relief effort. Mitchell said affected residents and business owners in Barton County 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, April 28, from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. seven days a week until further notice.