Washington, DC -- The head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) announced today that federal disaster aid has been made available for West Virginia families and businesses victimized by severe storms and flooding that struck the state late last week.
FEMA Director Joe M. Allbaugh said the assistance was authorized under a major disaster declaration issued by President Bush after a review of the agency's analysis of the state's request for federal relief. The declaration covers damage to private property from the storms, flooding and landslides that began May 2.
Following the declaration, Allbaugh designated the counties of McDowell, Mercer, Mingo and Wyoming eligible for aid to flood-stricken stricken residents and business owners.
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 funding will be provided to the state on a cost-shared basis for approved projects that reduce future disaster risks. He indicated that damage surveys are continuing and more counties and additional forms of assistance may be designated later based on the results of the assessments.
Justo Hernandez of FEMA was named by Allbaugh to coordinate federal relief operations. Hernandez said affected residents and business owners can begin the disaster application process on Monday, May 6, 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 from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. seven days a week until further notice.