ACROSS MISSISSIPPI — Sen. Thad Cochran (R-Miss.) announced final approval for eight federal grants worth more than $18.1 million to support Mississippi Gulf Coast recovery projects associated with Hurricane Katrina—work that was stalled because a federal disaster relief fund ran low on money.
And, the federal government is offering a cost-share break on public assistance to the state for recovery efforts from last spring’s tornadoes.
Cochran, the ranking member of the Senate Appropriations Committee and a member of the Senate Homeland Security Appropriations Subcommittee, said final approval of the Katrina grants was issued by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) in consultation with congressional appropriations panels. The grant funding will be obligated to the Mississippi Emergency Management Agency for projects in Hancock, Harrison and Jackson counties.
Cochran helped craft the FY2010 Emergency Supplemental Appropriations Bill (PL.111-212) that was signed into law July 29. The measure provided FEMA with $5.1 billion to replenish its Disaster Relief Fund. While Congress debated the supplemental bill, the fund had less than $900 million available to respond to disasters and FEMA carried more than $1.76 billion in arrears for projects already approved in designated federal disaster areas—including more than $131 million in Mississippi.
FEMA has given final approval for these approved, but unfunded, Katrina-related projects on the Mississippi Gulf Coast:
• City of Biloxi — $1,168,270.34 to support site work and ancillary requirements (roads, parking and utilities) related to the relocation of city facilities—Hubert Mullins Senior Citizen Center, Point Cadet Boxing Club, Point Cadet Hangar and O’Hanlan Recreational Center.
• City of Biloxi — $3,384,889.18 to supplement work by the city to repair the 73 lift stations, including elevating electrical components for 57 of these damaged lift stations. In addition to repair costs, the grant will support surveying and geotechnical services, engineering and design costs.
• City of Biloxi — $2,416,993.93 to support engineering surveys, soil investigations and other requirements needed for design and construction phases of sewer line projects in 14 areas of the city where the systems sustained damage.
• Catholic Charities Housing Association of Biloxi — $4,165,365.08 to support site work and ancillary requirements (roads, parking and utilities) related to the permanent relocation of Santa Maria de la Mer, a 13-story, 209-unit, low-income apartment for seniors, out of the flood zone.
• Catholic Charities Housing Association of Biloxi — $2,003,222.00 to accommodate construction plan changes related to the relocation of Santa Maria de la Mer, including the addition of 11,339 square feet of space and revisions required to meet Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requirements and codes previously adopted by the City of Biloxi. Total federal funding for this project is estimated to be $23.7 million.
• Harrison County — $2,287,103.21 to support site work and ancillary requirements (roads, parking and utilities) related to the permanent relocation of the county’s library facility in Gulfport, which will be called the Harrison County (Orange Grove) Library after it is relocated out of the flood zone.
• Jackson County School District – $1,481,100.70 to support site work and ancillary requirements (roads, parking and utilities) related to the permanent relocation of St. Martin Upper Elementary School and St. Martin Middle School to a new site in Ocean Springs.
• Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks — $1,252,849.62 to support the elevation of public buildings at the Buccaneer State Park in order to comply with floodplain and ADA requirements.
In a separate item, Cochran reported that FEMA has affirmed that it will lower the cost-share requirements on public assistance offered to Mississippi following a series of devastating tornadoes in April and May.
Pursuant to a congressional mandate Cochran supported in the FY2010 Emergency Supplemental Appropriations Bill (PL.111-212), FEMA is implementing a 90-10 federal/nonfederal cost-share ratio for federal disaster assistance offered following the fatal tornadoes, storms and flooding that tore through Mississippi on April 23-24 and May 1-2. This aid usually requires a 75-25 cost-share match.
Following the April 23-24 storms, a presidential disaster declaration was issued make to local governments and certain private, non-profit organizations eligible for FEMA public assistance funding to support debris removal and the repair or replacement of disaster-damaged facilities. This declaration covered Attala, Choctaw, Holmes, Issaquena, Monroe, Warren and Yazoo counties.
Alcorn, Benton, Marshall, Panola, Prentiss, Tippah, Tishomingo and Union counties were made eligible for the same type of assistance following severe storms and tornadoes on May 1-2.