Washington, D.C. -- Federal disaster aid was made available today for Ohio to help people and communities recover from the effects of a severe winter storm and record snowfall that struck the southern part of the state last month, according to the head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).
Michael D. Brown, FEMA director and under secretary designee for the Emergency Preparedness and Response Directorate, a part of the Department of Homeland Security, said the assistance was authorized under a major disaster declaration issued by President Bush following a review of FEMA's analysis of the state's request for federal relief. The declaration covers damage to private and public property from the storm that began on February 14.
Immediately after the President's action, Brown designated the counties of Adams, Jackson, Lawrence, Pike and Scioto eligible for 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.
For the state and affected local governments, Brown said federal funds will be provided to pay 75 percent of the eligible costs for restoring damaged public facilities in the counties of Adams, Gallia, Jackson, Lawrence, Meigs, Pike, Scioto and Vinton. The declaration also makes cost-shared funding available to the state for approved projects that reduce future disaster risks.
In addition, Brown said funding will be available to pay part of the cost for emergency protective measures undertaken as a result of record and near-record snowfall in the counties of Fayette, Franklin, Greene, Guernsey, Madison, Monroe and Muskinghum.
Under the declaration, FEMA will reimburse the state and local government agencies in these counties for 75 percent of the total eligible costs of equipment, contracts, and personnel overtime related to emergency services in dealing with the snow over a 48-hour period. These are the crucial hours when work crews clear snow from emergency routes and roads to critical facilities. Related emergency protective measures such as sanding and salting, search and rescue, shelter operations, and police and fire department response also will be eligible for reimbursement.
Brown indicated that additional counties may be designated for aid later if requested by the state and warranted by the results of further damage assessments. He named Ron Sherman of FEMA to coordinate the federal relief effort.
Sherman 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 Saturday, March 15, from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. seven days a week until further notice.