NORTH LITTLE ROCK, Ark. -- Damages from severe storms and flooding left their mark on 24 Arkansas counties hit during the period Dec. 23, 2009 to Jan. 2, 2010 making them eligible to receive federal funding for repairs. The storms and flooding left damages to bridges, highways, public buildings, parks, hospitals and water treatment plants – not to mention a trail of debris and potentially disrupted communications and emergency services.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is making available assistance, in partnership with the Arkansas Department of Emergency Management (ADEM), to help communities, county and state agencies and some private non-profit organizations that suffered storm damage.
“By assisting 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,” said Federal Coordinating Officer Kevin Hannes of FEMA.
Under the disaster declaration signed Feb. 4, Public Assistance (infrastructure) is available to local governments in Bradley, Calhoun, Clark, Clay, Cleveland, Craighead, Dallas, Drew, Grant, Greene, Hempstead, Jackson, Jefferson, Lafayette, Lincoln, Lonoke, Miller, Monroe, Nevada, Ouachita, Poinsett, Prairie, White and Woodruff counties, and Hazard Mitigation is available statewide.
The Arkansas Department of Emergency Management (ADEM), which administers the Public Assistance program, has scheduled briefings with local officials in these counties to provide information on the assistance available and how to apply. Federal, state and local teams have been inspecting all disaster-related damage, examining expenses identified by the state or local representatives, and preparing reports that outline the scope of repair work needed and the estimated restoration cost.
For Public Assistance projects that are eventually approved, FEMA will pay 75 percent of the cost. The remaining 25 percent is split between the state and local government. These projects may include such things as debris removal, emergency services related to the severe storms and flooding, 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 damages in future storms, tornadoes and flooding. This may take the form of flood-proofing; relocating, rebuilding or strengthening structures; lining ditches; building bigger culverts; redesigning bridges to withstand greater flows or repairing roads or public buildings or utilities.
“State and local governments work together to search out projects where hazard mitigation programs can be most useful, cost effective, and have the greatest impact, said Richard Griffin, State Coordinating Officer.
All the projects submitted are reviewed by an inter-agency steering committee made up of representatives from state and federal agencies. The projects are administered by ADEM. For projects chosen, 75 percent funding comes from FEMA’s Hazard Mitigation program.
Disaster recovery assistance is available without regard to race, color, religion, nationality, sex, age, disability,...