Washington, DC -- Federal disaster aid was made available for Wisconsin today to help people and communities recover from the spring floods that swamped the western part of the state, according to the head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).
FEMA Director Joe M. Allbaugh said President Bush authorized the assistance after the agency reported that the floods caused substantial residential and infrastructure losses, including more than 1,230 homes that were either destroyed or heavily damaged. The President's major disaster declaration covers damage to private and public property from severe storms and flooding that began April 10.
Following the declaration, Allbaugh designated 11 counties eligible for aid to flood-stricken residents and business owners. The counties include Buffalo, Burnett, Crawford, Douglas, Grant, La Crosse, Pepin, Pierce, St. Croix, Trempealeau and Vernon.
The assistance, to be coordinated by FEMA, 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 funds will be provided for the state and affected local governments to pay 75 percent of the eligible cost for restoring damaged public facilities in the counties of Ashland, Barron, Bayfield, Buffalo, Burnett, Crawford, Douglas, Grant, Iron, La Crosse, Pepin, Pierce, Polk, St. Croix, Trempealeau, Vernon and Washburn. The declaration also makes cost-shared funding available to the state for approved projects that reduce future disaster risks.
Allbaugh indicated that more counties may be designated for aid later if requested by the state and warranted by the results of further damage assessments. He named Thomas P. Davies of FEMA to coordinate the federal relief effort.
Davies said those who sustained losses in the counties designated for aid to stricken residents and business owners 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, May 12, from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. seven days a week until further notice.