Richmond, VA - As Hurricane Isabel damage assessment continues, six more jurisdictions in the Commonwealth of Virginia have been authorized for additional assistance, according to federal and commonwealth officials.
The independent city of Williamsburg and the counties of Albemarle, Amherst, Buckingham, Fluvanna and Rappahannock have been approved for Categories C through G under the U.S. Department of Homeland Security's Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Public Assistance Program.
The expanded scope of disaster assistance means that these local governments will be eligible for additional money for permanent infrastructure repair, explained Louis Botta, federal coordinating officer. "The disaster declaration issued by President Bush on Sept. 18 authorized federal funding in these cities and counties for individual assistance, emergency services and debris removal. We're glad to be able to provide this additional help."
State Coordinating Officer Michael Cline said the added funds are important to residents of the jurisdictions. "Hurricane Isabel damaged some important parts of the local infrastructure," Cline said, "and now they will get more help in making those repairs."
Under the disaster declaration, a total of 99 independent cities and counties were declared major disaster areas. All of those jurisdictions were made eligible for individual assistance, emergency protective measures and debris removal funds. Initially, only 12 of the local governments were eligible for FEMA Public Assistance Categories C through G, which addresses permanent repair to infrastructure such as public buildings, equipment, roads, bridges, water facilities and utilities. This assistance brings the total jurisdictions eligible for Categories C through G to 77.
The infrastructure program is funded on a cost-share basis with FEMA providing 75 percent of the funding and state and local governments covering the remaining 25 percent.
On March 1, 2003, FEMA became part of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. FEMA's continuing mission within the new department is to lead the effort to prepare the nation for all hazards and effectively manage federal response and recovery efforts following any national incident. FEMA also initiates proactive mitigation activities, trains first responders, and manages Citizen Corps, the National Flood Insurance Program and the U.S. Fire Administration.