FEMA announces Mississippi counties receiving disaster aid

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) sent out a notice that 12 Mississippi Counties are eligible to receive disaster aid under the Public Assistance and Hazard Mitigation Grant programs to repair or replace facilities damaged by the severe weather, tornado and flooding event occurring December 27th through December 28th, 2018.

The counties eligible for Public Assistance include Clarke, Covington, Forrest, Greene, Jasper, Jones, Marion, Newton, Noxubee Perry, and Wayne. FEMA said the Hazard Mitigation Grant Program will be available statewide and that additional designation may be made at a later date if requested by the state and warranted by the results of further damage assessments.

Governor Phil Bryant submitted a federal declaration request to President Trump for additional relief for the backwater flooding in the Mississippi Delta last month. At the time, there were over 500,000 acres of land underwater.

In a statement, FEMA said they intend to provide assistance for the restoration of these facilities to their pre-disaster condition, except that certain measures to mitigate the effect of future flooding or other hazards may be included in the work. For example, a bridge or culvert restoration may include a larger waterway opening to decrease the risk of future washouts.

In many cases, an applicant may have started facility restoration before federal involvement. Even if the facility must undergo detailed review and analysis of alternate locations, FEMA will fund eligible restoration at the original location if the facility is functionally dependent on its floodplain location (e.g., bridges and flood control facilities), or the project facilitates an open space use, or the facility is an integral part of a larger network that is impractical or uneconomical to relocate, such as a road.

In such cases, FEMA must also examine the possible effects of not restoring the facility, minimizing floodplain or wetland impacts, and determining both that an overriding public need for the facility clearly outweighs the Executive Order requirements to avoid the floodplain or wetland, and that the site is the only practicable alternative. The State of Mississippi and local officials will confirm to FEMA that proposed actions comply with all applicable state and local floodplain management and wetland protection requirements.

FEMA also intends to provide HMGP funding to the State of Mississippi to mitigate future disaster damages. These projects may include construction of new facilities, modification of existing, undamaged facilities, relocation of facilities out of floodplains, demolition of structures, or other types of projects to mitigate future disaster damages. In the course of developing project proposals, subsequent public notices will be published if necessary as more specific information becomes available.