Area counties eligible for disaster help after storm

Published 5:00 am Thursday, May 14, 2009

Lincoln County is one of 10 counties declared as a disaster areaafter severe storms and flooding that hit in late March, FederalEmergency Management Agency officials said Tuesday.

Lincoln County Civil Defense Director Clifford Galey said whatthe declaration means is that county officials will be able to filepaperwork for reimbursement for extra work done by county personnelduring March 25 and the week following.

“FEMA called for a preliminary damage assessment, and they put adollar figure on what they thought it would cost for the repairs,and that’s what was included in the governor’s request,” hesaid.

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The Mississippi Emergency Management Agency said Tuesday thatdamages in the 30 counties topped $4.3 million. The countieseligible under the declaration are Amite, Greene, Jackson,Lawrence, Lincoln, Simpson, Stone, Walthall, Wayne andWilkinson.

Galey said the preliminary numbers are taken, but then theactual cost is figured when a county is declared. Sometimes thepreliminary cost and the final cost can differ because officialsare just estimating, but he said both county and city officials areprepared for the situation

“Sometimes there’s a good bit of difference because we guess atthe amount of debris to be removed, and sometimes that turns intomore,” Galey said. “But in both the city and the county I’ll letthem know it looks like this may be large enough for a declaration,so keep up with your time and expenses.”

FEMA’s public assistance program provides aid for debris removaland emergency protective measures and for the repair, replacementor restoration of disaster-damaged public facilities. The programalso covers some private nonprofit organizations.

It could be a year or more before the county receives fundsreimbursing them for work and damage, though. Galey said disasterfunds from Hurricane Katrina only came in two months ago. But onthe flip side, the final steps for Gustav are in the works now.

“Depending on the entity and the people working on it – and a ofthat lot falls on me – it can take anywhere from three months andup to get everything done through the Mississippi EmergencyManagement Agency and FEMA. It’s not unusual for it to be a year ortwo.”