Biloxi, MS -- Three FEMA/MEMA damage inspection teams are working cooperatively in the field to assist local governments and agencies in Harrison, Hancock, Jackson, George and Pear River counties prepare documentation necessary to receive federal and state funds that will enable these counties to restore and repair damages caused by Tropical Storm Allison.
Each damage inspection team has federal/state public assistance coordinators and project officers who act as customer service representatives and facilitate the processing of repair and restoration projects. Trained in public assistance policies and procedures, these representatives guide the applicant through the important steps required to receive funding. The coordinators help each applicant document damage, determine eligible repair work, estimate costs, develop project worksheets and identify any special considerations that require attention.
"Flooding, tornadoes, high winds and severe storms caused significant road and bridge washouts, electrical power outages and debris buildup," said Robert R. Latham, Jr., state coordinating officer, Mississippi Emergency Management Agency (MEMA). "The repair of the roads and bridges, restoration of funds to the power associations and reimbursement for debris removal are critical factors in assisting these communities to recover fully from this disaster."
"Financial assistance is an important part of disaster recovery for local governments," remarked Gracia Szczech, federal coordinating officer for the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). "The Public Assistance grants are a FEMA program designed to assist states and their constituents rebuild damaged infrastructure in the wake of such torrential storms."
President Bush designated the five Mississippi counties a major disaster area on June 21.
With the presidential disaster declaration in place, affected local governments in these counties are eligible to apply for federal assistance to fund 75 percent of the approved costs for debris removal, emergency protective measures, and repairing, restoring or replacing damaged public facilities. The state of Mississippi and the local governments each will provide 12.5 percent of the approved costs.
Disaster assistance also may be provided to repair, restore and replace facilities owned by certain private non-profit organizations that operate and maintain educational, utility, emergency, medical custodial care and other essential governmental service facilities. There are no state funds available for private non-profit organizations.