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September 10, 2008




Barbour pushes for individual assistance for homeowners living in temporary housing units and for residents of Southwest, coastal counties

(JACKSON, Mississippi) - Governor Haley Barbour today requested President George W. Bush and the Federal Emergency Management Agency to declare Mississippi as a major disaster area after state, local and federal officials finished preliminary damage assessments.


Prior to completion of the damage assessments, the Governor had requested a disaster declaration for 16 counties last week; however, today’s revised request asks FEMA to declare 20 counties eligible for the Public Assistance program and three counties for the Individual Assistance program.


“Mississippi was extremely prepared for this storm, and we're thankful that Gustav was not Katrina. However, the amount of damage sustained by many of our counties, particularly those along the Gulf Coast and in Southwest Mississippi, is substantial,” Governor Barbour said. “Right now, our top priority is to make sure federal officials recognize that in addition to our statewide and local efforts, we need public assistance to help our affected citizens get back on their feet.”


The public assistance program would allow governments and not-for-profit entities to be reimbursed up to 75 percent of eligible expenses in rebuilding public structures, roadways or debris removal. The counties included in the request that had to meet a damage threshold include: Adams, Amite, Claiborne, Copiah, Forrest, Franklin, George, Hancock, Harrison, Jackson, Jefferson, Jefferson Davis, Lawrence, Lincoln, Marion, Pearl River, Pike, Stone, Walthall and Wilkinson.


The individual assistance program would allow eligible storm victims to receive grants of up to $28,000 to help replace or repair their home and contents. It will also provide programs such as disaster food stamps, disaster unemployment assistance and crisis counseling. The three counties surveyed with the most damage include: Hancock, Harrison and Washington.


Additionally, the Governor specifically requested assistance for homeowners who lived in temporary housing units provided by FEMA or the Mississippi Emergency Management Agency. “The families in these units lost much of the personal property they had managed to obtain after being totally devastated by Hurricane Katrina,” Governor Barbour explained in his letter, “...they desperately need assistance under a new declaration for Hurricane Gustav.”


He called on federal officials to provide SBA Disaster Loans for Adams and Wilkinson Counties, which sustained damaged homes and massive power outages.


The Governor's request is awaiting approval from the President and FEMA.