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Disaster Assistance Work Underway for 18 Nebraska Counties

(LINCOLN, NEB.) — State and federal emergency management officials are coordinating with several Nebraska communities to jump-start disaster assistance approved by President Donald Trump in the wake of severe storms and tornadoes that battered parts of the state from June 12 to June 17.

“We have hit the ground running and are reaching out to local governments to get the disaster-assistance process started,” said Bryan Tuma, assistant director of the Nebraska Emergency Management Agency (NEMA). “We know how important it is to help our communities financially with storm costs as soon as we can.”

The major disaster declaration, approved Aug. 1, makes financial assistance available to state, tribal and eligible local governments, as well as certain private, non-profit organizations in 18 Nebraska counties to help pay certain costs associated with storm-related emergency measures and permanent repairs to publicly-owned buildings and infrastructure caused by the June 12-17 storms. Assistance to individuals and businesses is not available through this declaration.

The 18 eligible counties are: Banner, Box Butte, Butler, Cass, Cuming, Dodge, Douglas, Fillmore, Gage, Jefferson, Morrill, Polk, Sarpy, Saunders, Sheridan, Sioux, Thurston, and Wayne.

Federal assistance to help pay for measures that will reduce or prevent future disaster damage is available statewide via an application to NEMA.

NEMA officials have scheduled applicant briefings in the counties where representatives from local governments will learn about how the program works, the types of clean-up and repair work that are eligible and the documentation needed to receive financial assistance. The meetings will take place in the coming weeks. Then, detailed calculations will be drawn up to identify scopes of work and eligible costs to restore public infrastructure to its pre-storm condition.

“We are partnering with NEMA and working hard to help Nebraska communities recover, and to make sure that they are receiving all the state and federal assistance that they are eligible for,” said Dolph Diemont, FEMA’s federal coordinating officer.

The aid is provided under FEMA’s Public Assistance Program, which helps defray certain storm-related costs incurred by governmental entities for things such as: debris removal from public areas; emergency protective measures taken by public safety entities such police and fire departments, damage to public buildings, equipment, parks, roads, bridges and utilities, such as public power districts.

Public Assistance money comes in the form of a grant that is awarded to the state on a cost-share basis. The federal portion is 75 percent; the state and local governments pick up the remaining portion of the total cost.  The federal money is a grant that does not need to be paid back.


Help for Individuals and Businesses

Individuals, businesses and non-profit organizations can get disaster assistance from the June storms as well.  At the request of Gov. Pete Ricketts, the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) has made low-interest federal disaster loans available in five Nebraska counties and two Iowa counties affected by the storms, tornadoes and extremely high winds that occurred June 12-16, 2017.

The counties are: Cass, Lancaster, Otoe, Sarpy and Saunders counties in Nebraska; and Fremont and Mills counties in Iowa.

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 3.215 percent for businesses, 2.5 percent for private nonprofit organizations and 1.938 percent for homeowners and renters with terms up to 30 years.

The deadline to apply is Sept.1. To apply, call SBA at 1-800-659-2955 or go online to https://disasterloan.sba.gov/ela  to receive additional disaster assistance information and download applications. Individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing may call (800) 877-8339. Completed applications should be mailed to U.S. Small Business Administration, Processing and Disbursement Center, 14925 Kingsport Road, Fort Worth, TX  76155.

Individuals with access and functional needs who need help with storm clean-up, repairs or other essential needs should contact their local emergency management office for assistance options.

Agriculture producers and operators with damage should contact their local Farm Service Agency for guidance on possible disaster assistance.

FEMA also is providing federal assistance to governmental entities in 10 Nebraska counties hit by a severe winter storm and straight-line winds from April 29-May 3, 2017.

President Trump issued a major disaster declaration for that storm on June 26 for the counties of Blaine, Custer, Furnas, Garfield, Gosper, Holt, Loup, Red Willow, Rock, and Valley.  So far, eligible storm damage representing the largest share of expected federal assistance has been incurred by public power districts in those areas.