PHOENIX, Ariz. -- More than $1 million in federal disaster money has been approved so far to help Arizona communities recover from the summer storms and flooding that hit the state in July and August, according to state and federal disaster officials.
The million-dollar mark was reached less than six weeks after President Bush declared a major disaster for parts of Arizona, allowing federal infrastructure aid to start flowing to storm-damaged communities.
"This is an important milestone in the disaster recovery," said Federal Coordinating Officer Lee Rosenberg of the Department of Homeland Security's Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). "The state of Arizona has created an efficient system for processing its disaster grant applications. It allows FEMA to deliver funding in a timely way. "
On Sept. 7, President Bush signed a major disaster declaration for areas in Arizona affected by the severe storms that struck between July 25 and Aug. 4.
The declaration enabled local, state and tribal governments, as well as certain non-profit organizations in the designated counties to apply for FEMA financial aid to repair or replace flood-damaged public facilities, including local roads, bridges, public buildings, utilities and other flood-damaged infrastructure. FEMA funding is also available to reimburse those agencies for extraordinary emergency costs and debris removal related to the storms.
The initial funding applications approved by state and FEMA officials included 32 projects with federal reimbursement totaling more than $1 million. Most of that funding - about $664,400 -- was earmarked for permanent road repairs. Another $207,400 will reimburse agencies for debris removal and $146,600 for emergency protective measures such as restoring access to roads. Dozens of other applications from disaster declared counties are in the pipeline and are expected to receive federal funding approval in the near future, Arizona disaster officials said.
"The summer flooding caused more than $11 million in damages," said State Coordinating Officer Lou Trammell of the Arizona Division of Emergency Management. "That's why FEMA's financial aid is so important."
Under FEMA's Public Assistance Program, FEMA will pay 75 percent of the eligible costs of flood damage in parts of Arizona included in the presidential disaster declaration. The non-federal cost share will be covered by local, state, or tribal governments or eligible non-profit agencies.
The declared counties are Gila, Graham, Greenlee, Navajo, Pima and Pinal. The tribes included in the declaration are the Gila River Indian Community within Pinal County, the Hopi Tribe within Navajo County, the Navajo Nation within Navajo County, the San Carlos Apache Tribe within Gila, Graham and Pinal counties and the Tohono O'odham Nation within Pinal and Pima counties.
In addition to approving funds to restore facilities to their pre-flood condition, FEMA will also provide extra money where it is possible to take additional steps to mitigate against the likelihood of similar damages and costs in the future.
FEMA manages federal response and recovery efforts following any national incident, initiates mitigation activities and manages the National Flood Insurance Program. FEMA works closely with state and local emergency managers, law enforcement personnel, firefighters and other first responders. FEMA became part of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security on March 1, 2003.