Washington, D.C. -- Federal disaster aid has been made available to help families and businesses in northeastern Mississippi recover from the effects of tornadoes and other extreme weather that struck the area earlier this month, the head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) announced today.
Michael D. Brown, FEMA director and undersecretary for the Emergency Preparedness and Response Directorate, a part of the Department of Homeland Security, said President Bush authorized the assistance under a major disaster declaration issued after a review of FEMA?s analysis of the state?s request for federal relief. The declaration covers damage to private property from severe storms, tornadoes and high winds that occurred May 5-8.
Immediately after the declaration, Brown designated the following nine counties eligible for aid to stricken residents and business owners: Calhoun, Clay, Chickasaw, Itawamba, Lee, Lowndes, Monroe, Pontotoc and Webster.
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, Brown said federal funds will be available to the state on a cost-shared basis for approved projects that reduce future disaster risks.
Brown indicated that more counties and additional forms of assistance may be designated later if requested by the state and warranted by the results of further damage assessments. He named Carlos M. Mitchell of FEMA to coordinate the federal relief effort.
Mitchell 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 Saturday, May 24, from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. seven days a week until further notice.