Washington, D. C. -- The head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) announced today that federal disaster aid has been made available for people and communities in north central Wisconsin victimized by tornadoes and other violent weather this past Labor Day.
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 storms, tornadoes and flooding that occurred on September 2.
Immediately after the President's action, Allbaugh designated the following 19 counties eligible for aid to stricken residents and business owners: Barron, Burnett, Chippewa, Clark, Dunn, Langlade, Lincoln, Marathon, Polk, Portage, Price, Rusk, Sawyer, Shawano, St. Croix, Taylor, Washburn, Waupaca and Wood.
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 Polk, Rusk and Taylor counties to pay 75 percent of the eligible costs for debris removal, emergency protective measures and the restoration of damaged public facilities. The declaration also makes cost-shared funding available to the state for approved projects that reduce future disaster risks.
Allbaugh indicated that damage surveys are continuing and additional counties may be designated for aid later based on the results of the assessments. He named Gracia Szczech of FEMA to coordinate the federal relief effort.
Szczech 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 Wednesday, September 11, from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. seven days a week until further notice.