Washington, D. C. -- The head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) announced today that federal disaster aid has been made available for people in central and southwestern Indiana ravaged by last Friday's string of violent tornadoes.
FEMA Director Joe M. Allbaugh said President Bush ordered the assistance under a major disaster declaration issued this afternoon immediately after receiving the agency's analysis of the state's expedited request for federal relief.
"The President's rapid response to Governor O'Bannon's request expresses his deep concern for the many families devastated by these storms," Allbaugh said, "and we will work as fast and efficiently as possible in aiding all those in need."
After the declaration, Allbaugh designated the following 32 counties eligible for federal funding to help meet the recovery needs of stricken residents and business owners: Bartholomew, Blackford, Brown, Daviess, Decatur, Delaware, Fayette, Franklin, Gibson, Grant, Greene, Hamilton, Hancock, Hendricks, Henry, Jay, Johnson, Knox, Lawrence, Madison, Marion, Monroe, Morgan, Owen, Pike, Posey, Randolph, Rush, Shelby, Sullivan, Tipton, and Vanderburgh.
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 indicated that damage surveys are continuing and additional counties and assistance for state and local government agencies may be designated later based on the results of assessments. He named William Lokey of FEMA to coordinate the federal relief effort.
Lokey said residents and business owners who sustained losses in the designated counties 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, September 26, from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. seven days a week until further notice.