WASHINGTON, D.C. -- The head of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security's Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) announced today that President Bush has ordered the release of federal disaster funds for Mississippi to supplement state and local response efforts for Hurricane Dennis.
Michael D. Brown, Under Secretary of Homeland Security for Emergency Preparedness and Response, said the President took the action under a major disaster declaration issued for Mississippi immediately after receiving FEMA's analysis of the state's request for federal assistance.
"The action taken by the President today addresses the immediate emergency priorities while we continue the process for assessing additional assistance requirements," Brown said.
Under the declaration, Brown said federal funds will be available to the state and affected local governments and certain private non-profit organizations in 38 counties to pay 75 percent of the approved costs for debris removal and emergency protective services related to the hurricane, including requested emergency work undertaken by the federal government. For a period of up to 72 hours, Brown said emergency protective services and requested federal emergency work, excluding debris removal, would be paid at 100 percent federal funding.
The 38 counties designated eligible for the assistance include Attala, Calhoun, Chickasaw, Choctaw, Clarke, Clay, Covington, Forrest, George, Greene, Hancock, Harrison, Itawamba, Jackson, Jasper, Jefferson Davis, Jones, Kemper, Lamar, Lauderdale, Leake, Lee, Lowndes, Madison, Monroe, Neshoba, Newton, Noxubee, Oktibbeha, Perry, Pontotoc, Rankin, Scott, Smith, Stone, Wayne, Webster and Winston
Brown said federal funding also will be available to the state on a cost-shared basis for approved projects that reduce future disaster risks. He indicated that more counties and additional forms of assistance may be designated later as conditions allow damage to be assessed in the stricken area.
Justo Hernandez of FEMA was named by Brown to coordinate the federal relief effort. Hernandez said that procedures for requesting assistance will be explained at a series of applicant briefings at locations to be announced in the affected area.
FEMA prepares the nation for all hazards and manages federal response and recovery efforts following any national incident. FEMA also initiates mitigation activities, trains first responders, works with state and local emergency managers, and manages the National Flood Insurance Program and the U.S. Fire Administration. FEMA became part of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security on March 1, 2003.