Washington, DC -- The head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) announced today that federal disaster aid has been made available for Mississippi families and businesses victimized by tornadoes and other extreme weather that struck the state late last month.
FEMA Director Joe M. Allbaugh said the assistance was authorized under a major disaster declaration issued for the state by President Bush. The declaration covers damage to private property from the severe storms, tornadoes and flooding that began November 24.
Immediately after the President's action, Allbaugh designated the following 10 counties eligible for federal funding to help meet the recovery needs of affected residents and business owners: Bolivar, DeSoto, Hinds, Humphreys, Madison, Panola, Quitman, Sunflower, Tate and Washington.
The assistance, to be coordinated by FEMA, can include grants to help pay for temporary housing, minor 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.
Allbaugh said federal funds also will be available to the state on a cost-shared basis for approved projects that reduce future disaster risks. He indicated that additional designations may be made 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 federal relief operations. Szczech said residents and business owners who sustained losses in the designated counties can begin the disaster application process by calling 1-800-621-FEMA, or 1-800-462-7585 (TTY) for the hearing and speech impaired. The toll-free telephone numbers will be available starting Saturday, December 8 from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. seven days a week until further notice.