WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Federal disaster aid was made available today for Texas families and businesses in Bowie County victimized by tornadoes and other violent weather earlier this week, according to the head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).
FEMA Director James Lee Witt said President Clinton authorized the assistance under a major disaster declaration issued for the state this afternoon. The declaration covers damage from severe storms and tornadoes that struck the area on May 4.
Witt, who designated Bowie County eligible for aid following the declaration, said assistance for stricken individuals and families can include grants to help pay for temporary housing, minor home repairs and other serious disaster-related expenses. Low-interest loans from the U.S. Small Business Administration also will be available to cover residential and business losses not fully compensated by insurance.
Additionally, Witt said federal funds will be provided for the state and affected local governments in the county to pay 75 percent of the eligible cost for debris removal and emergency services related to the disaster. The declaration also makes cost-shared funding available to the state for approved projects that reduce future disaster risks.
Witt indicated that more counties and additional forms of assistance for state and local government agencies may be designated later based on the result of further damage assessments. He named Sharon L. Stoffel, of FEMA's regional office in Boston, Mass., to serve as the federal coordinating officer for the relief effort.
Stoffel said affected residents and business owners in Bowie County can begin the disaster application process by calling 1-800-462-9029, or 1-800-462-7585 (TTY) for the hearing and speech impaired. The toll-free telephone numbers will be available starting Friday, May 7, from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. (CT) seven days a week until further notice.