Missourians can apply for federal aid after disaster declaration
JEFFERSON CITY - President Barack Obama granted Gov. Jay Nixon's request for a disaster declaration in Missouri Thursday, declaring a major disaster exists in the state. The disaster declaration allows individuals and households from 33 Missouri counties affected by severe storms, tornadoes, straight-line winds and floods to apply for federal assistance.
The governor made the request for the disaster declaration on Jan. 15.
“This was a significant disaster that did widespread damage, and its impact continues to be felt in communities across the state,” Nixon said. “This federal declaration will help affected residents and businesses rebuild and recover, and I thank the President for granting our request.”
The Federal Emergency Management Agency said business owners who sustained losses from the flooding between Dec. 23, 2015, and Jan. 9 can begin applying for assistance Friday.
The governor had declared a state of emergency for the entire state on Dec. 27 after flooding caused nearly 400 roads to close down across Missouri. The state also activated the Missouri State Emergency Operations Plan, which allowed state agencies to coordinate directly with local jurisdictions to provide emergency services.
The president approved Nixon's request for a federal emergency declaration on Jan. 2. As a result, the governor announced Operation Recovery, a federal and state debris removal program. The Missouri National Guard, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency have coordinated Operation Recovery.
According to the state, the flooding and storms led to 16 confirmed deaths, and destroyed or significantly damaged nearly 1,000 homes.
The governor said the sooner Missourians register with FEMA, the more quickly they will be able to receive assistance. He encouraged individuals affected by the flooding to document losses by photographing damage and keeping receipts.
Federal assistance can include grants for temporary housing and home repairs, low-cost loans to cover uninsured property losses, and other programs to help people and businesses recover from the disaster. The deadline for most individual assistance programs is 60 days after the president’s disaster declaration.
The governor's office listed the following potential assistance 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.
Individuals and households in 33 counties can apply for federal aid:
- Cape Girardeau
- St. Charles
- St. Francois
- St. Louis
- Ste. Genevieve
To apply for federal aid, go online, call 1-800-621-3362 or call 1-800-462-7585 for the hearing and speech impaired.