LITTLE ROCK, Ark. -- Severe storms and tornadoes threaten more than homes.? They can damage or destroy bridges, highways, public buildings, parks, hospitals and water treatment plants - not to mention leave tons of debris or disrupt communications and emergency services.
In addition to the many assistance programs available to help people recover from disasters, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) offers a helping hand to communities, county and state agencies and some private non-profit organizations that suffered storm and tornado damage.?
"By helping local and state governments and looking for ways to reduce future damages, state and federal disaster assistance has an impact on every individual in those communities," explained Ken Riley, FEMA Federal Coordinating Officer in charge of the Arkansas public assistance disaster.
"Under the Presidential disaster declaration of?September 18, 2008 for public assistance (infrastructure) local governments in Ashley, Bradley, Calhoun, Chicot, Clark, Cleveland, Conway, Dallas, Drew, Garland, Grant, Hot Spring, Lincoln, Montgomery, Perry, Prairie, Saline and Van Buren counties are benefiting from federal assistance," said State Coordinating Officer Richard Griffin.
According to Griffin, The Arkansas Department of Emergency Management (ADEM) administers the Public Assistance program and has briefed local officials in the above counties on the assistance available and how to apply.
Teams comprised of federal, state and local officials have been inspecting all disaster-related damage to estimate total restoration costs.
For approved projects, FEMA will typically pay 75 percent of the eligible cost. These projects may include such things as debris removal, emergency services related to the storms and repairing or replacing damaged public facilities.? The latter category includes eligible schools, libraries and other public buildings, and repairing roads, bridges, water control facilities, utilities and recreational facilities.
Private non-profit organizations may qualify for assistance to restore certain types of facilities that include educational, utility, emergency, medical, custodial care and other facilities that provide essential government types of services.
Another assistance program, Hazard Mitigation, identifies areas where local or state governments can prevent or reduce damage in future storms, tornadoes and flooding. This may take the form of flood-proofing; moving, rebuilding or strengthening structures; lining ditches; building bigger culverts; redesigning bridges to withstand greater flows or repairing roads or public buildings or utilities.? While the projects are administered by ADEM, both state and local government work together to search out places where hazard mitigation programs can be most useful, cost effective and have the greatest impact.
FEMA coordinates the federal government's role in preparing for, preventing, mitigating the effects of, responding to, and recovering from all domestic disasters, whether natural or man-made, including acts of terror.