WASHINGTON, D.C -- The head of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security's Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) announced today that federal disaster funds have been made available to help communities in southern Arkansas recover from the effects of severe storms that started in late May.
Michael D. Brown, Under Secretary of Homeland Security for Emergency Preparedness and Response, said President Bush authorized the aid under a major disaster declaration signed last night following a review of FEMA's analysis of the state's request for federal assistance. The declaration covers damage to public property from severe storms and flooding beginning on May 30.
After the President's action, Brown designated the following 12 counties eligible for federal funding to pay state and affected local governments 75 percent of the approved costs for debris removal, emergency services related to the disaster, and the restoration of damaged public facilities: Bradley, Calhoun, Clark, Columbia, Hempstead, Howard, Lafayette, Little River, Nevada, Ouachita, Pike, and Sevier. The funding also covers the cost of emergency work undertaken by the federal government at the request of the state and local governments.
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. He indicated that additional designations may be made later if requested by the state and warranted by the results of further damage assessments.
Carlos Mitchell of FEMA was named by Brown to coordinate the federal relief effort. Mitchell said that procedures for requesting assistance will be explained at a series of applicant briefings at locations to be announced shortly in the affected area.
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 the National Flood Insurance Program and the U.S. Fire Administration.