Riverwatch: State, Federal Disaster Aid Tops $9 Million

PIERRE, S.D. – State and federal disaster aid for South Dakota’s floods this year has topped $9 million, disaster officials said today.

The figure includes $1.8 million in aid from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) targeted to households. FEMA’s “Individual Assistance” program for individuals and families was declared on August 23. More than1,000 households and businesses have registered for the aid since then.

Here is a summary of activities of state and federal disaster recovery efforts so far:

  • $1.8 million has been approved in Individual Assistance grants for 543 South Dakota households. The funds are for renting emergency housing for residents displaced by the floods, for basic housing repairs to make owner-occupied homes livable again, and other serious disaster-related needs.
  • Homeowners, renters and businesses in Charles Mix, Hughes, Stanley and Union counties may be eligible for the assistance. They can register for it by calling 800-621-FEMA (3362) or TTY 800-462-7585, or by going online at www.disasterassistance.gov, or through a web-enabled mobile device or Smartphone by going to m.fema.gov.
  • Farmers, ranchers, self-employed people and others who normally do not qualify for unemployment assistance may be eligible for benefits if their loss of income is related to the flooding that caused the disaster declaration. Benefits are available for March 19 through Nov. 12, 2011, but claims must be filed by Sept. 29. Those interested can call 605-626-3179 any time Mondays through Fridays, from 8 a.m. to 4:20 p.m.
  • Two Disaster Recovery Centers have been opened to provide information to anyone interested on rebuilding in ways that help prevent future damage, give personal assistance with filling out loan applications from the Small Business Administration, get updates on the status of one’s application, and much more. One center is at the Pierre Mall in Pierre, the other at 1246 River Road in North Sioux City. They will be closed over Labor Day weekend; their hours starting Tuesday will be 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Mondays through Fridays and 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturdays. More than 150 residents have visited the centers in their first days of operation.
  • Federal and state assistance for flood-fighting measures and rebuilding public infrastructure in South Dakota has reached $2 million from FEMA and $266,000 from the State of South Dakota’s Office of Emergency Management. FEMA pays 75 percent of the eligible cost or repairing or replacing infrastructure, the state pays 10 percent, and the local government responsible for the structure pays the remaining 15 percent. More than 600 local governments, state agencies, and some private nonprofits in 40 South Dakota counties have registered for assistance because of the flooding from March 11 through July 22. Disaster officials estimate more than 2200 projects across the state may be eligible for assistance, so the process of reimbursing agencies for the repairs they make will take months.
  • Aid to individuals, families and businesses will not be affected by the recent restrictions on the Disaster Relief Fund administered by FEMA. Also, funding for debris removal and for emergency measures taken during the flood fight, including levees, will continue as before. However, funding for long-term projects such as reimbursement for road repairs will be suspended until more money has been authorized for the Disaster Relief Fund.
  • FEMA has assigned 57 missions to various federal agencies and other resources in support of the emergency response, at a total cost of $5.15 million. The federal missions included law enforcement and levee patrol by Immigration and Customs Enforcement and by Customs and Border Patrol, flights by the Civil Air Patrol, technical assistance from the Corps of Engineers to advise on locally-built levees, help with wastewater issues from the Environmental Protection Agency, help with housing issues from Housing and Urban Development, help with hospital issues from the Department of Health and Human Services, and help with animal and pet shelters by the U. S. Department of Agriculture.

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