Washington, D. C. -- Federal disaster aid has been made available for Mississippi to help people and communities recover from the flooding rains unleashed by Tropical Storm Isidore last week, the head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) announced today.
FEMA Director Joe M. Allbaugh said the assistance was authorized under a major disaster declaration issued for the state by President Bush this afternoon. The declaration covers damage to private and public property caused by Isidore, which began affecting the state's coastline on September 23.
Following the President's action, Allbaugh designated seven counties eligible for aid to stricken residents and business owners. The counties include Amite, Hancock, Harrison, Jackson, Pearl River, Pike and Stone.
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 to pay 75 percent of the eligible costs for repairing or replacing damaged public facilities in the counties of Hancock, Harrison, Jackson, Lincoln, Pearl River and Pike. Funding also will be available on a cost-shared basis for approved projects that reduce future disaster risks in the counties of Amite, Hancock, Harrison, Jackson, Lincoln, Pearl River and Pike.
Allbaugh indicated that additional counties may be designated for aid later as receding floodwaters allow damage to be assessed in other areas. He named Michael Bolch of FEMA to coordinate the federal relief effort.
Bolch 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, October 2, from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. seven days a week until further notice.