Grand Island, Neb. -- Sixty days after severe storms and flooding struck central Nebraska, many counties and towns continue to work restoring their damaged roads, water drainage systems and infrastructure.
Thirty eligible applicants for federal Public Assistance grants have identified more than 95 projects requiring repair or attention as a result of the storms that occurred May 11-12.
Adams, Buffalo, Fillmore, Frontier, Hall, Hamilton, Howard, Kearney, Merrick, Seward and York counties were designated for disaster assistance with preliminary damage estimates approaching $3.2 million dollars.
Within days after President Bush authorized funding to help local governments recover from the effects of the storms, more than 25 Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and Nebraska Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) members were deployed to provide technical support in the hardest hit areas.
Kick off meetings were held by state and federal staff to help local officials get their repair projects started. Applicants had 30 days from the date their area was designated eligible to submit applications to the state. Once the state receives the request form, a FEMA public assistance coordinator is assigned to work with the applicant throughout the recovery period.
In addition to debris removal and emergency protective measures, the Public Assistance Program provides supplemental federal disaster grant assistance for the repair, replacement, or restoration of disaster damaged, publicly owned facilities. The federal share of assistance is not less than 75% of the eligible cost for emergency measures and permanent restoration. The state determines how the non-federal share (up to 25%) is split with the applicant. In Nebraska, the non-federal share is split evenly between state and local entities.
The disaster declaration also includes the federal Hazard Mitigation Program which makes funds available to the state on a cost-shared basis for approved projects that reduce future disaster risks.
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.