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Marengo residents eligible for disaster aid

REGION – Federal disaster assistance is on its way for people in Greene, Hale, Marengo, Perry and Sumter counties.

Gov. Bob Riley announced that President George W. Bush has approved his request to add the counties Thursday, clearing the way for individuals and families to apply for a range of disaster assistance programs through the Federal Emergency Management Agency in the wake of Hurricane Ivan.

“With the approval of our request, now even more Alabamians will be able to get the help they need to recover,” Governor Riley said.

“I greatly appreciate President Bush’s response and we will continue to do all we can to make sure all available help is delivered as quickly as possible.”

Emergency public assistance had been provided to state and local governments to help with the costs of storm recovery efforts and damage to public buildings, but the extension of full federal aid will mean people in the additional counties can receive help.

Individual storm victims in these counties are now eligible to apply for federal assistance to help with temporary housing, rental assistance, individual housing program grants and other types of assistance, the governor’s office said.

Demopolis City Clerk Vickie Taylor told council members Thursday night that a team of FEMA public assistance liaisons were expected in her office today to begin the process of assisting the city with federal assistance documentation.

“I have had numerous calls from the White House, FEMA, Sen. Jeff Session’s office, Congressman Artur Davis’ office and the state this week,” she told council members. “Both the senator and the congressman contacted me offering any direct assistance they could.”

FEMA Operations Chief Bob Fenton is dispatching a public assistance coordinator and a county relations staffer to Demopolis, Taylor said.

Also added to the Sept. 16 federal disaster declaration for individual assistance are: Barbour, Blount, Bullock, Calhoun, Clay, Cullman, Dale, Etowah, Fayette, Franklin, Lamar, Lawrence, Lee, Macon, Marshall, Marion, Pike, St. Clair, Tallapoosa, Walker and Winston.

The counties added to the federal disaster declaration for individual assistance and debris removal in addition to the region’s counties are: Autauga, Bibb, Chilton, Choctaw, Coosa, Dallas, Elmore, Jefferson, Lowndes, Montgomery, Pickens, Shelby, Talladega, Tuscaloosa and Wilcox.

On September 16, President Bush approved – at Governor Riley’s request – infrastructure assistance to local governments and individual assistance to storm victims in Baldwin, Mobile, Washington, Escambia, Clarke, Monroe, Conecuh, Butler, Crenshaw, Covington, Coffee and Geneva Counties.

The Presidential disaster declaration of September 16 also approved infrastructure assistance to local governments in Choctaw, Marengo, Wilcox, Lowndes, Montgomery, Sumter, Greene, Hale, Perry, Dallas, Autauga, Elmore, Pickens, Tuscaloosa, Bibb, Chilton, Coosa, Jefferson, Shelby and Talladega Counties.

To apply for assistance, individuals must call the FEMA toll free tele-registration line at 800-621-3362 or 800-462-7585 for the speech and hearing impaired.

The lines are open 24 hours a day, seven days a week.