Washington, DC -- Federal disaster funds were made available today to help communities in 11 South Dakota counties recover from the effects of a series of late winter storms that plagued the state over the past two months, according to the head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).
FEMA Director Joe M. Allbaugh said the assistance was authorized under a major disaster declaration issued by President Bush following a review of the agency's analysis of the state's request for federal aid. The declaration covers damage to public property from severe winter storms, ice jams and flooding that occurred over the period of March 1 through April 30.
Under the declaration, the state and affected local governments in the 11 counties are eligible to apply for federal funding to pay 75 percent of the approved cost for debris removal, emergency services related to the disaster, and repairing or replacing damaged public facilities, such as roads, bridges and utilities.
The counties designated by Allbaugh for the assistance include Beadle, Brookings, Clark, Codington, Grant, Hamlin, Kingsbury, Mellette, Roberts, Sanborn and Spink.
Allbaugh said the declaration also makes cost-shared funding available to the state for approved projects that reduce future disaster risks. He indicated that additional counties may be designated for aid later if requested by the state and warranted by the results of further damage assessments.
Gracia Szczech of FEMA was named by Allbaugh to coordinate the federal relief effort. Szczech 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.