Washington, D. C. -- The head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) announced today that federal disaster aid has been made available to help families and businesses in northwestern Ohio recover from the string of violent tornadoes that ravaged the area last week.
FEMA Director Joe M. Allbaugh said President Bush authorized the assistance under a major disaster declaration issued for Ohio following a review of the agency's analysis of the state's request for federal relief. The declaration covers damage to private property from severe storms and tornadoes that occurred November 10.
"President Bush understands how devastating these storms have been and that Ohioans need help to get back on their feet," Allbaugh said. "We will do all that we can to make sure that everyone in need of assistance receives it as fast and efficiently as possible."
Immediately after the President's action, Allbaugh designated the counties of Hancock, Ottawa, Paulding, Putnam, Seneca and Van Wert eligible for federal aid to stricken residents and business owners.
The assistance, to be coordinated by FEMA, can include grants to help pay for temporary housing, 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 available for the state on a cost-shared basis for approved projects that reduce future disaster risks. He indicated that more counties and assistance for state and local government agencies may be designated later based on the results of ongoing damage assessments.
Ron Sherman of FEMA was named by Allbaugh to coordinate federal recovery operations. Sherman said affected residents and business owners 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 Tuesday, November 19, from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. seven days a week until further notice.