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FEMA extends incident period for February storms and flooding

Federal disaster assistance could soon start flowing to aid more residents impacted by last February’s storms and historic flooding.

The official incident event was for the severe storms, straight-line winds, tornadoes and flooding that occurred in February. Due to the continuing effects of the flood following those storms, the “incident period” was moved from Feb. 22 to Aug. 23. The major disaster declaration, signed by President Trump, initially designated Feb. 22 to March 29 as the “incident period” for disaster DR-4429-MS.

Citing unprecedented and ongoing flooding, state officials asked FEMA to extend the incident period closure date to Aug. 23.

Of the Mississippi counties declared eligible for federal assistance, eight — Clay, Humphreys, Issaquena, Lowndes, Monroe, Sharkey, Yazoo and Warren — are eligible for FEMA “Individual Assistance” programs for individuals and households.

Although the period was extended, eligible damages must be the result of the February storms and floods for which the original disaster was declared. If any damages are not related to the storms that began in late February, residents are not eligible for assistance under this disaster.

Residents must apply with FEMA in order to become eligible for assistance. To register, visit www.DisasterAssistance.gov or call 800-621-3362 (TTY 800-462-7585). The toll-free lines are open daily 7 a.m. to 10 p.m.

Applicants who previously registered for FEMA assistance, but were determined to have suffered damages outside the original incident period, will now automatically be reviewed for eligibility and do not have to appeal or re-apply.

Even though the incident period has been extended, it does not include an extension on Public Assistance funding (funding for infrastructure, community-based improvements.)

By approving the state’s request, FEMA potentially increased the number of storm- and flood-damaged households eligible for individual assistance. Additional home inspections may be required by FEMA inspectors to verify storm related damages.

“This expansion of the original timeframe will allow for more Mississippi communities to receive the help they need to recover from the storms,” FEMA’s Federal Coordinating Officer Joe Girot said. “We are confident that our strong partnership with the state will allow for a smooth, coordinated effort on behalf of these impacted communities.”

Eligible survivors impacted by the February storms, either on or before Aug. 23, can still register for disaster assistance with FEMA.

The last day to register for FEMA disaster assistance is Nov. 19.

There is also still time to register in person at the Joint Disaster Recovery Center located at Vicksburg Mall, 3505 Pemberton Square Blvd., Suite 25.

The center, which is scheduled to close Thursday, Oct. 31, will be open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. each weekday and from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. each Saturday. The center is closed on Sunday.