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Escambia among counties eligible for federal disaster aid

By Staff
FROM STAFF REPORTS
newsroom@atmoreadvance.com
Residents of Baldwin, Clarke, Esambia, Mobile, Monroe, and Washington counties became eligible on May 23, 2003 to apply for federal disaster assistance due to losses suffered from last month's severe storms, flooding, and tornadoes. With the addition of the six counties listed above, there are now 38 counties who are entitled to individual assistance programs authorized by President Bush through the major disaster declaration issued on May 12.
Gracia Szczech, of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and federal coordinating officer for the Alabama disaster recovery, said the six counties were added to the list of eligible jurisdictions based on a continuing assessment of damage data gathered by federal and state disaster recovery officials.
This classification means that business owners and residents in Escambia county are now eligible to apply for housing assistance, low-interest loans to replace or repair damaged property, or grants to accommodate other needs or necessary expenses not met by other programs.
The key federal disaster aid programs that can be made available as needed and warranted are as follows:
* Loans up to $1.5 million for small businesses that have suffered disaster-related cash flow problems and need funds for working capital to recover from the disaster's adverse economic impact.
* Loans up to $500,000 for farmers, ranchers, and aquaculture operators to cover production and property losses, excluding primary residence.
* Other relief programs: Crisis counseling for those traumatized by the disaster; income tax assistance for filing casualty loss; advisory assistance for legal, veterans benefits, and social security matters.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency's (FEMA) toll-free Helpline number is 1-800-621-FEMA (3362). There is a TTY number for applicants with speech or hearing impairments, which is 1-800-462-7585.