Washington, DC -- Federal disaster aid has been made available for Kansas to help families and businesses recover from the effects of the severe winter ice storm that began last month, 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 for the state by President Bush. The declaration covers damage to private and public property from severe winter ice storm starting January 29.
Following the President's action, Allbaugh designated 35 counties eligible for aid to stricken residents and business owners. The counties include Allen, Anderson, Barber, Bourbon, Butler, Chautauqua, Cherokee, Coffey, Comanche, Cowley, Crawford, Douglas, Elk, Franklin, Greenwood, Harper, Jefferson, Johnson, Kingman, Kiowa, Labette, Leavenworth, Linn, Lyon, Miami, Montgomery, Neosho, Osage, Pratt, Sedgwick, Shawnee, Sumner, Wilson, Woodson, and Wyandotte.
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.
Additionally, Allbaugh said federal funds will be provided for the state and affected local governments in Johnson and Wyandotte counties to pay 75 percent of the eligible costs to repair or replace disaster-damaged public facilities, such as roads, buildings and utilities. The declaration also makes cost-shared funding available to the state for approved projects that reduce future disaster risks.
Allbaugh indicated that additional counties may be designated for aid later if requested and warranted by the results of further damage assessments. He named Carlos Mitchell of FEMA to coordinate the federal relief effort.
Mitchell said those who sustained losses in the counties designated for aid to affected residents and business owners can begin the disaster application process by calling 1-800-621-FEMA (3362), or 1-800-462-7585 (TTY) for the hearing and speech impaired. The toll-free telephone numbers will be available starting Thursday, February 7 from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Saturday until further notice.