Individual aid granted to 33 counties

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Assistance now available to local residents, businesses

Barry County was one of 33 listed in a major disaster declaration for Missouri, which was granted by President Barack Obama Thursday.

Gov. Jay Nixon's made the request for a declaration as a result of the two strong storm systems in late December and early January that brought severe weather and historic flooding to much of the state.

The declaration makes the individual assistance program available to eligible residents in 33 Missouri counties, who can now seek federal assistance, such as help with temporary housing and repairs, and to replace household items damaged or lost as a result of flooding. Those affected by the flooding are encouraged to document losses, including photographing damage and retaining receipts.

According to David Compton, Barry County Emergency Management director, 33 single-family homes, 10 mobile homes and 80 business damaged in the floods.

"This was a significant disaster that did widespread damage, and its impact continues to be felt in communities across the state," Gov. Nixon said. "This federal declaration will help affected residents and businesses rebuild and recover, and I thank the President for granting our request."

Compton said the county applied for individual assistance after the flooding in July 2015, which damaged 30 businesses in Cassville alone, but it was not granted. In December, Monett's Broadway Street was hit much harder, leading to the 80 businesses seeing damage.

Compton said he believes the individual assistance declaration came down for the December flooding because the damage was more widespread across the state, whereas the July flooding only made a high impact in southwest Missouri.

The 33 Missouri counties eligible under the individual assistance program are Barry, Barton, Camden, Cape Girardeau, Cole, Crawford, Franklin, Gasconade, Greene, Hickory, Jasper, Jefferson, Laclede, Lawrence, Lincoln, Maries, McDonald, Morgan, Newton, Osage, Phelps, Polk, Pulaski, Scott, St. Charles, St. Francois, St. Louis, Ste. Genevieve, Stone, Taney, Texas, Webster and Wright.

Individuals who sustained damage or losses due to the flooding between Dec. 23, 2015, and Jan. 9, 2016, in one of the Missouri counties included in the disaster declaration may register for disaster aid online at www.DisasterAssistance.gov or by calling FEMA's toll-free registration line at 1-800-621-FEMA (3362). Nixon said the quicker that Missourians register with FEMA, the more quickly they may be able to receive assistance.

The deadline for most individual assistance programs is 60 days following the President's major disaster declaration. Disaster aid to eligible individuals generally falls into the following categories:

* Housing Assistance may be available for up to 18 months for displaced persons whose residences were heavily damaged or destroyed. Funding also can be provided for housing repairs and replacement of damaged items to make homes habitable.

* Disaster Grants, which are available to help meet other serious disaster related needs and necessary expenses not covered by insurance and other aid programs. These may include replacement of personal property, and transportation, medical, dental and funeral expenses.

* Low-Interest Disaster Loans are available after a disaster for homeowners and renters from the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) to cover uninsured property losses. Loans may be available for repair or replacement of homes, automobiles, clothing or other damaged personal property. Loans are also available to businesses for property loss and economic injury.

* Other Disaster Aid Programs include crisis counseling, disaster-related unemployment assistance, legal aid and assistance with income tax, Social Security and veterans' benefits.

Nixon said damage assessments are continuing across the state to determine the costs for damage to public infrastructure and emergency response costs for state and local government agencies and nonprofits in responding to the disaster.

Compton and Witt-Schulte said a public assistance is highly likely, as both have easily met the thresholds needed for a declaration.

"We ran our numbers very conservative, but FEMA said we likely had enough damage in Barry County alone to qualify the whole state," Compton said.

Barry County is expected to see about $3 million in damages. For Barry County to get public assistance, the threshold is $8 million in damage statewide, and at least $126,000 in Barry County. For Lawrence County, the state threshold is the same, and the county would have to see about $130,000 in damage, which it has surpassed.

Gov. Nixon declared a state of emergency in Missouri on Dec. 27, as heavy rain, flooding and flash flooding impacted the state. The Missouri State Emergency Operations Plan also was activated, allowing state agencies to coordinate directly with local jurisdictions to provide emergency services.

The storms led to 16 deaths and destroyed or significantly damaged nearly 1,000 homes.

On Jan. 2, Nixon announced Obama had approved his request for a federal emergency declaration to speed debris removal and relieve the strain of response and recovery costs in the St. Louis region. Nixon made the individual assistance request on Jan. 15.

Small Business Administration

Low-interest federal disaster loans are now available to Missouri businesses and residents as a result of President Obama's major disaster declaration, SBA Administrator Maria Contreras-Sweet announced.

"The SBA is strongly committed to providing Missouri with the most effective and customer-focused response possible and with access to federal disaster loans to help Missouri businesses and residents affected by this disaster," Contreras-Sweet said. "Getting our businesses and communities up and running after a disaster is our highest priority at SBA."

Businesses of all sizes and private non-profit organizations may borrow up to $2 million to repair or replace damaged or destroyed real estate, machinery and equipment, inventory, and other business assets.

SBA can also lend additional funds to businesses and homeowners to help with the cost of improvements to protect, prevent or minimize the same type of disaster damage from occurring in the future.

For small businesses, small agricultural cooperatives, small businesses engaged in aquaculture, and most private nonprofit organizations of any size, SBA offers Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDLs) to help meet working capital needs caused by the disaster.

EIDL assistance is available to businesses regardless of any property damage.

Disaster loans up to $200,000 are available to homeowners to repair or replace damaged or destroyed real estate. Homeowners and renters are eligible for up to $40,000 to repair or replace damaged or destroyed personal property.

Interest rates can be as low as 4 percent for businesses, 2.625 percent for private non-profit organizations and 1.813 percent for homeowners and renters with terms up to 30 years. Loan amounts and terms are set by SBA and are based on each applicant's financial condition.

To be considered for all forms of disaster assistance, victims must first call FEMA at 1-800-621-FEMA (3362).

As soon as Federal-State Disaster Recovery Centers open throughout the affected area, SBA will provide one-on-one assistance to disaster loan applicants.

Additional information and details on the location of disaster recovery centers is available by calling the SBA Customer Service Center at 800-659-2955.

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