Southeast Missouri Counties Declared Disaster Areas




Southeast Missouri Counties Declared Disaster Areas
By: Kate Scott

There’s good news for Southeast Missouri storm victims who need help putting their lives back together after Tuesday’s tornadoes. 

Friday, President Bush declared Cape Girardeau and Jefferson Counties to be federally designated disaster areas, a move that triggers both individual and public federal assistance to affected victims.  The President also declared six other Heartland counties for individual assistance: St. Francois, Ste. Genevieve, Perry, Bollinger, Stoddard and Scott.

The news came while Missouri senators Kit Bond and Jim Talent were meeting with local emergency officials in Jackson Friday afternoon. The senators spent the day touring tornado damage all across the state, and urged President Bush that the federal help was needed.   The news was welcome information to agencies like the Southeast Missouri Chapter of the American Red Cross.  “With the federal dollars coming in, it rebuilds the economy within the community,” says Ron MacCubbin.  “It makes our donation dollars at the Red Cross go further, and it puts families on the road to recovery much quicker.”

What the declaration means is that victims in those counties can now apply for grants to get temporary housing, home repairs and other disaster-related needs.  They can also get low-interest loans to cover residential and business losses not fully covered by insurance.  “The key thing now as we dig out from under is to let the federal agencies know what claims are out there,” Senator Talent told local officials on Friday.  “You've got to encourage people to get registered, and then our offices along with Congresswoman Emerson’s, will work with you to make certain those agencies are responsive.”

Even if you think you might not qualify, the senators are urging all storm victims in the designated counties to call and register at 1-800-621-FEMA. They say it's the best way to find out for sure what kind of help you can get, and it’s the first step toward receiving that help.

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