Deadline Monday for requests for disaster aid

Published 12:00 am Thursday, June 19, 2003

[06/19/03] Monday is the deadline for people in Warren, Claiborne and Issaquena counties to apply for financial help following April’s severe weather, disaster-management officials said.

Through June 12, 241 people from Warren County, 11 from Claiborne and none from Issaquena had applied for government loans or grants, Federal Emergency Management Agency spokesman Jay Eaker said.

People whose property was damaged during the April 6-25 storms, which brought heavy rains to the area, may ask questions and request an application by mail by calling FEMA’s hotline, 800-621-3362, he said.

Email newsletter signup

Sign up for The Vicksburg Post's free newsletters

Check which newsletters you would like to receive
  • Vicksburg News: Sent daily at 5 am
  • Vicksburg Sports: Sent daily at 10 am
  • Vicksburg Living: Sent on 15th of each month

“We would prefer that people have insurance” against the risks of floods and other natural disasters, Eaker said. People who were without insurance when their homes were damaged by the storms, however, may apply to FEMA for help by calling before 6 p.m. Monday, he said.

For people FEMA thinks can repay low-interest loans, it coordinates them through the federal Small Business Administration, Eaker said. Those judged unable to repay loans may be eligible for grants, he added.

Such grants have averaged about $3,500, he said. Each is capped at $25,000, but few applicants demonstrate damage worth that much, he added. Applicants for help have been seeing approval decisions within about 10 days.

“We send an inspector out to verify the loss,” Eaker said, adding that FEMA also wants people to be aware that grant funds are available for attempts to reduce the risk of loss if another such disaster occurs.

People whose grant applications are approved receive a letter and a check in the mail, he said. Applicants who have not received a response from a coordinating agency’s representative may call the FEMA hotline for an update on their applications status, said Jennifer Griffin of the Mississippi Emergency Management Agency, which is also involved in the effort.

After the application deadline, FEMA will continue to process the applications it has received, officials said.

President Bush declared 31 counties in central and southwestern Mississippi a disaster area on April 24, at the request of Gov. Ronnie Musgrove.

As of Wednesday, 11,936 Mississippians had applied for assistance. Grants and loans totaling $26,101,319 in federal funds and $2,015,188 from the state government had been approved, officials said.

Thirteen of the counties, including Warren but not its northern or southern neighbors, had also been made eligible for a public infrastructure disaster assistance program, with totals of $4,224,545 in federal funds and $1,408,182 from the state government approved as of Wednesday, officials said.

The City of Vicksburg had applied for $753,000 from the program but had not received notice of an approval decision, city strategic planner Paul Rogers said. He added that the amount may be adjusted depending on the outcomes of insurance claims.

That amount included about $50,000 to repair the city’s wastewater treatment facility, damage to which was estimated at $531,000 through May, Rogers said. Original estimates of the storms’ damage to the facility had ranged as high as $1.5 million.

L.W. Callaway, director of the Warren County Emergency Management Office, said his office had coordinated aid applications from various county and city departments, but that he did not have figures on the total amount applied for by the county government.

He said the insurance was to cover much of the damage at Redwood Elementary School but that damage to roads or bridges may be eligible for assistance through the program.

No similar disaster declaration had been made for Louisiana, Eaker said. The federal funds distributed through the program come from the president’s disaster fund and are appropriated by Congress, Eaker said.