Indiana Gov. Joe Kernan has asked President George W. Bush to declare a snow emergency to provide aid to 50 counties in Southern and Central Indiana after a snowstorm hit the state late last week.
“Many Hoosiers communities were hit hard as a result last week’s extreme snowstorms. State and local officials, including members of the Indiana National Guard where needed, were fully committed to clearing the roads and providing emergency assistance in sometimes extremely hazardous conditions,” Kernan said. “The federal aid requested today will supplement local emergency response budgets to continue to recover from these historic storms.”
Based on preliminary information from the National Weather Service, the State Emergency Management Agency has determined that all 50 counties may be eligible for federal funds as a result or record or near-record snowfalls. If approved, funding may be used to reimburse local and state agencies for 75 percent of the costs associated with the snow removal and rescue efforts over a 48-hour period of time.
Some areas of the state received up to 24 inches of snow beginning Dec. 22. Blowing conditions beginning on Dec. 23 hampered snow cleanup efforts. Some interstate, state and local highways were closed in the affected counties, including portions of I-64, I-65 and I-74, as Indiana State Police, Indiana National Guard, Indiana Department of Transportation as well as county sheriffs, volunteer organizations and local officials cleared stranded vehicles and established temporary shelters.
On Dec. 23, Kernan declared a state disaster emergency for portions of Indiana and urged Hoosiers to delay holiday travel due to the weather conditions. Non-essential state offices and facilities in 44 Indiana counties were closed through end of business on Friday, Dec. 24.
Thousands of travelers were stranded on highways and at rest stops, or diverted to shelters, as a result of the storms. Eight fatalities were attributed to the weather.
If President Bush approves federal aid for the affected portions of Indiana, counties will work with SEMA to coordinate funding applications to the Federal Emergency Management Agency to determine the appropriate response and recovery reimbursement.
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