FEMA reps ‘confident’ county will qualify for federal assistance

Team assesses damage from storms after June 16

By BRUCE ALSOBROOK | News-Telegram Managing Editor

Aug 24, 2007 - Representatives of FEMA and the governor's office indicated Thursday they were confident Hopkins County will qualify for disaster assistance to make infrastructure repairs caused by heavy rains and high winds this summer.

The team of four people — two from the Federal Emergency Management Agency and two from Gov. Perry's Office of Emergency Management — toured parts of Hopkins County with County Judge Cletis Millsap Thursday, assessing damage to roads, bridges and county buildings.

Based on population, Hopkins County could receive up to about $97,000 in federal aid for repairs caused by storms in the region since June 16.

"We have seen enough that we feel confident the request (will be approved)," said Billy Penn, external affairs specialist with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, which operates FEMA. "We think we've found significantly enough to qualify."

Millsap issued a declaration of disaster for the county on Aug. 3 and sought federal help to make repairs brought on by six weeks of rain and wind. Millsap said at that time one county commissioner estimated repairs to roads were costing $1,000 a day.

"It is my belief that damage to homes, businesses, public works and utility systems due to the rain constitutes a public health and safety hazard," Millsap wrote in a letter to Gov. Rick Perry. "I have determined that this incident is of such severity and magnitude that an effective response is beyond Hopkins County's capability to recover without supplementary State and/or Federal assistance."

Penn said after the assessment of the county is completed, the information will be sent to Austin for consideration. The state will then forward its recommendations to FEMA, which then decides how much assistance to dole out.

"We should be at the next step in the process in two to three weeks," he said.

If approved, the federal assitance would pay for 75 percent of repairs costs on identified projects, with the county footing the other 25 percent.

Penn added private property owners will not be eligible for the aid, but certified non-profit organizations may qualify if their properties sustained damage from the storms.

Penn also praised Millsap for taking time to visit the affected areas and answer questions from the team, which included Philip Brown, a primary damage assessor with FEMA and Deborah Donahue and Megan Leitsinger with the governor's emergency management office.

"We seldom go into a county where the judge will take the day off to join us and drive down those dusty roads," Penn said.

Close to $100,000 could be available for storm repairs

By BRUCE ALSOBROOK | News-Telegram Managing Editor

Representatives of FEMA and the governor's office indicated Thursday they were confident Hopkins County will qualify for disaster assistance to make infrastructure repairs caused by heavy rains and high winds this summer.

The team of four people — two from the Federal Emergency Management Agency and two from Gov. Perry's Office of Emergency Management — toured parts of Hopkins County with County Judge Cletis Millsap Thursday, assessing damage to roads, bridges and county buildings.

Based on population, Hopkins County could receive up to about $97,000 in federal aid for repairs caused by storms in the region since June 16.

"We have seen enough that we feel confident the request (will be approved)," said Billy Penn, external affairs specialist with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, which operates FEMA. "We think we've found significantly enough to qualify."

Millsap issued a declaration of disaster for the county on Aug. 3 and sought federal help to make repairs brought on by six weeks of rain and wind. Millsap said at that time one county commissioner estimated repairs to roads were costing $1,000 a day.

"It is my belief that damage to homes, businesses, public works and utility systems due to the rain constitutes a public health and safety hazard," Millsap wrote in a letter to Gov. Rick Perry. "I have determined that this incident is of such severity and magnitude that an effective response is beyond Hopkins County's capability to recover without supplementary State and/or Federal assistance."

Penn said after the assessment of the county is completed, the information will be sent to Austin for consideration. The state will then forward its recommendations to FEMA, which then decides how much assistance to dole out.

"We should be at the next step in the process in two to three weeks," he said.

If approved, the federal assitance would pay for 75 percent of repairs costs on identified projects, with the county footing the other 25 percent.

Penn added private property owners will not be eligible for the aid, but certified non-profit organizations may qualify if their properties sustained damage from the storms.

Penn also praised Millsap for taking time to visit the affected areas and answer questions from the team, which included Philip Brown, a primary damage assessor with FEMA and Deborah Donahue and Megan Leitsinger with the governor's emergency management office.

"We seldom go into a county where the judge will take the day off to join us and drive down those dusty roads," Penn said.

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