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FEMA funding process still ongoing

Lincoln County suffered significant damage from March storms with residents seeing quarter-sized hail, several multi-vehicle accidents and leaky roofs at the library, jail and justice court building.

County Engineer Ryan Holmes told Lincoln County supervisors in April the damage had a $200,000 price tag, but Lincoln County Emergency Management Director Clifford Galey said the final cost is yet to be determined.

Clifford Galey

Clifford Galey

At least a portion of the damages may qualify for reimbursement from the Federal Emergency Management Agency, but figuring out which damages and how much is a process that will take some time, Galey said.

Galey said he is, “working with the FEMA guy to determine what the damage was and what is eligible and what is not eligible. During the process, he’s writing project worksheets for that.”

Each repair project will be individually assessed to determine if it qualifies for reimbursement, and those projects must be completed before they are eligible. Galey said that some projects, particularly those involving damaged roads, are still ongoing.

Eligible damages must have occurred between March 9 through March 29, according to MEMA representative Clayton French. Determining eligibility is an involved process that requires the coordination of the MEMA, FEMA, the county and the state.

“It is a partnership between FEMA, the state and you,” French said in a May meeting of the Board of Supervisors. “It is up to you to identify projects to present to FEMA when they arrive.”

Galey said there’s no way to say for certain how long the process will take, but he anticipates five to six months.

“It’s a specific process and sometimes it’s a little slow because there’s a lot of information that has to be gathered,” Galey said. “It has to go through all the steps. It’s usually not quick.”

Once all the paperwork is in order, FEMA will reimburse 75 percent of the cost of qualifying projects, and the state will cover 12.5 percent. The county then will cover the remaining 12.5 percent.

Disaster loans available for businesses and residents

For local businesses and residents that suffered storm damage from March 9-14, the U.S. Small Business administration is offering low-interest disaster loans.

SBA Administrator Maria Contreras-Sweet announced the loans following a letter from Gov. Phil Bryant requesting a disaster declaration.

SBA said businesses and nonprofit organizations may borrow up to $2 million for repairs, while loans up to $200,000 are available to homeowners for repairs on real estate and $40,000 for personal property.

SBA said interest rates are as low as 4 percent for businesses, 2.625 percent for nonprofits and 1.813 percent for homeowners and renters with terms up to 30 years. Loan amounts and terms are set by the SBA and are based on each applicant’s financial condition. The filing deadline to return applications for physical property damage is Aug. 5.

Applicants may apply online at disasterloan.sba.gov.