Jackson, MS -- When natural or man-made disasters damage community infrastructure, everyone residing in the affected community feels the pain, not only those who directly and personally suffer damage from the event. Inconveniences caused by road and bridge damage, disruption in community services such as schools, libraries, hospitals and local and state government facilities, all contribute to post-disaster hardship.
Many times the extent of damage to a community is beyond its capability to adequately recover.
With President Bush's disaster declaration on April 24, 2003, substantial federal/state financial assistance became available to help Mississippi communities deal with the extraordinary costs resulting from the severe storms, tornadoes and flooding of April 6 through 25, 2003.
The storms devastated roads, bridges and utilities, and overtaxed municipal and county resources for conducting debris removal, flood fighting and other protective measures in many communities," said Leon Shaifer, Mississippi's state coordinating officer for long-term disaster recovery. "Most of these communities would be hard-pressed to cover those costs and repair the infrastructure without the help of federal disaster assistance."
Shaifer added, "Since February, 2001, Mississippi has had seven presidential disaster declarations, resulting in obligations from the federal and state governments of $73,643,510 for Public Assistance. The non-federal funding amounts to $18,410,000 for more than 1,500 various projects."
The Federal Emergency Management Agency's (FEMA) Public Assistance program reimburses 75 percent of eligible costs. These include costs of debris removal and overtime for emergency protective services, as well as the repair or replacement of disaster-damaged public facilities. State and local governments and eligible private non-profit organizations share the remaining 25 percent of the costs.
"We encourage local governments and eligible non-profit organizations seeking federal reimbursement for storm related costs to file the necessary Request for Public Assistance form with FEMA," said Federal Coordinating Officer Carlos Mitchell. "For more information on the Public Assistance program, local officials should contact their local emergency management agency."
Thirteen Mississippi counties - Clarke, Hinds, Kemper, Lauderdale, Leake, Lincoln, Madison, Neshoba, Newton, Rankin, Scott, Warren and Yazoo - have been designated as eligible for public assistance.