Federal and state aid to Mississippians affected by Hurricane Katrina throughout Mississippi has surpassed $1billion, according to the Department of Homeland Security’s Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and Mississippi Emergency Management Agency (MEMA). This figure includes costs for emergency assistance as well as financial assistance to homeowners, renters and business owners who sustained storm damages.
“Although there is still a lot of work to be done, we feel this is a definite milestone for the state of Mississippi , said Nick Russo, FEMA’s federal coordinating officer in Mississippi . “We are continuing to work closely with our federal partners to meet the immediate and long-term needs of affected residents.”
To date, more than 450,000 individuals and families have received a portion of $1 billion in FEMA assistance, which is divided into two categories: Housing Assistance (HA) and Other Needs Assistance (ONA).
The total HA disbursed so far is $729 million . HA is provided when an applicant’s home is destroyed or damaged so badly that it cannot be lived in and there is insufficient insurance coverage available to meet the need for housing.
Nearly $273 million has been provided in ONA funds. ONA helps homeowners and renters pay for disaster-related needs such as medical and dental expenses, personal property, funeral costs and transportation.
“We cannot overstate the amount of cooperation that is required as state, federal and voluntary agencies work toward recovery,” said Robert Latham, director of MEMA. “We all have the same goal: getting our residents the help they need to begin working toward a positive future for themselves and their families.”
A breakdown of other types of assistance and their respective amounts of aid are as follows:
* The U. S. Small Business Administration Disaster Assistance Program has approved more than $650 million in low-interest loans for homeowners, renters and owners of all sizes of businesses due to Katrina.
* To date, more than 29,000 manufactured housing units have been made available to those needing housing. The temporary housing units provided are supplying shelter to more than 79,000 Mississippians.
* Through FEMA’s Operation Blue Roof program, more than 49,000 temporary roofs have been installed in three months. Operation Blue Roof allows residents to return to their homes and greatly reduces the need for more expensive temporary housing.
* Under the direction of FEMA, the USACE has also provided more than 383 temporary classrooms and 203 temporary office buildings allowing local government offices to restore essential government services in areas damaged by Katrina.
Approximately 512,425 Mississippians have registered for assistance with FEMA by calling either the toll-free application number 1-800-621-FEMA (3362) , or TTY 1-800-462-7585 for speech- or hearing-impaired, or by going online at www.fema.gov.
Federal and state emergency officials continue to stress the importance of calling FEMA’s toll-free application number or accessing the Web site, to register for assistance. The deadline for individuals and households to file a new application for Individual Assistance through FEMA is March 11, 2006.
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