COLUMBIA, Mo. -- In a continuing effort to inform the media, local officials and taxpayers about federal disaster assistance, officials with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and State Emergency Management Agency (SEMA) today provided the following Q & A.
QUESTION: I heard the reason FEMA isn’t reimbursing people for generators and hotel bills is that the agency spent so much money on Katrina victims in Louisiana, there’s nothing left for Missourians. True?
ANSWER: No. There is no cap on the amount of money Congress can authorize FEMA to spend in response to disasters in this state or any state. The reason FEMA’s Individual Assistance program hasn’t been authorized for Missourians is that, to date, there has not been evidence of widespread uninsured damage to primary residences, though damage assessments are continuing. Public Assistance has been authorized, which means local taxpayers in the affected Missouri counties won’t have to shoulder the complete burden of paying for such things as removal of disaster debris from public rights-of-ways.
QUESTION: I’m a local official who’s spoken with several people from FEMA and SEMA. But I still have questions and concerns about how my community will recover from the ice storms. What should I do?
ANSWER: First, please know that FEMA and SEMA are here for the long haul. But also know that recovery officials are responding first to the hardest-hit areas and those communities with immediate needs. Initial visits from FEMA and SEMA personnel to survey damages will be followed up by subsequent visits to identify projects that may be eligible for reimbursement and to estimate repair costs. Local officials in disaster-affected counties have all been assigned a Public Assistance Officer to help guide them through the process of identifying eligible projects and applying for federal disaster assistance. Finally, local officials should know that both FEMA and SEMA are only a phone call away. The best number is the Missouri State Emergency Operations Center, (573) 526-9100. Individual Missourians who still have unmet disaster-related needs should call the Missouri Donations Hotline, 1-888-377-2100, or the American Red Cross, 1-866-GET-INFO (438-4636).
QUESTION: How many FEMA people are working on the recovery effort from the recent ice storms?
ANSWER: FEMA has deployed 105 trained personnel around the state of Missouri to help communities respond and recover to the ice storms of November/December 2006 and January 2007.
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.