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Area eligible for disaster assistance

Federal money will soon begin flowing into Lincoln and 19 othersouth Mississippi counties to reimburse local government agenciesthat incurred extra expenses during Hurricane Gustav at thebeginning of September.

Lincoln County Civil Defense Director Clifford Galey saidPresident Bush’s Tuesday declaration of the 20 counties as majordisaster areas will allow the Federal Emergency Management Agencyto pay Brookhaven and Lincoln County 75 percent of additionalexpenses incurred through hurricane preparation and response. Thefederal fund will cover items such as overtime payments, extra fuelcosts and damage repair.

The state and the local governments will split the remaining 25percent evenly, meaning that the city and county will only berequired to pay 12.5 percent of all additional hurricane-relatedexpenses.

“It allows payment for the government agencies that respondedbefore, during and after the storm for their emergency responses,cleanup and any damage sustained,” Galey said. “We’ll have to putit all on paper and it has to be turned in and approved.”

Galey said there was no way to determine how much money would bepaid to the county and city governments until lists of all theadditional hurricane work are compiled.

The compilation progress will begin Thursday at 2 p.m. at ameeting of various city and county agencies at Lampton Auditoriumon the Mississippi School of the Arts campus.

Galey said the local governments’ responses were sizable, asbasically all city and county agencies – from road departments tolaw enforcement – worked long hours throughout HurricaneGustav.

“You had the city and county governments getting all their stuffprepared for what damage we could have had, and all law enforcementgetting prepared for the evacuees and the Interstate 55 contraflowending in Lincoln County,” he said. “All those types of emergencymeasures will be eligible [for federal reimbursement].”

Besides the many hours the local agencies put in, Galey said thecounty and city would claim various amounts of storm damage on thereimbursement paperwork, including several washed-out roads andbridges, water damage and debris removal.

Galey said the speed at which the federal dollars arrive dependson the amount of damage claimed.

“It could be anywhere from days to weeks,” he said.

Based on Lincoln County’s last major disaster, however, thepayments may take quite a while to arrive.

“We’re still waiting on final payments from Hurricane Katrina,”Galey said.