ACROSS MISSISSIPPI — In just 12 days more than $6.2 million in federal assistance has been approved for people in 40 Mississippi counties that were declared as two major disaster areas by the president following devastating tornadoes and historic Mississippi River flooding, according to the Mississippi Emergency Management Agency (MEMA).
While many recovery efforts along the severely flooded Mississippi River are held back by the heavy flooding, state and federal disaster officials are primed and ready to speed work as soon as the water recedes.
The 40 counties where people are eligible to apply for state and federal help are: Adams, Alcorn, Attala, Bolivar, Chickasaw, Choctaw, Clarke, Claiborne, Clay, Coahoma, DeSoto, Greene, Grenada, Hinds, Humphreys, Holmes, Issaquena, Jasper, Jefferson, Kemper, Lafayette, Leflore, Marshall, Monroe, Montgomery, Neshoba, Newton, Panola, Quitman, Sharkey, Smith, Sunflower, Tishomingo, Tunica, Warren, Washington, Webster Wilkinson, Winston and Yazoo.
MEMA gave the following summary of all federal assistance to individuals in both disasters through May 19:
• $6,223,330 in total housing and personal needs has been approved. Of that amount, $4,252,093 has been approved for housing expenses, including temporary rental assistance, home repair costs and assistance toward replacing destroyed homes.
• $822,337 has been approved as “Other Needs Assistance” to cover essential disaster-related needs, such as medical and dental expenses and lost personal possessions.
• $1,148,900 in loans to homeowners, renters or business owners has been approved by the U.S. Small Business Administration.
• 7,184 applicants have registered with FEMA for some form of disaster assistance.
• 1,897 visits have been made at Disaster Recovery Centers operated jointly by FEMA and the state.
• 3,612 home inspections to confirm disaster damage have been completed.
Teams of state and FEMA Community Relations field specialists have distributed more than 24,725 flyers and worked in the affected counties to help identify and assist disaster survivors. In the course of explaining the recovery process, they have visited 5,504 residents, 707 businesses, 461 faith-based groups, 100 community organizations, 41 schools, 250 emergency managers, fire and law enforcement officials, 211 government officials and 39 post offices.
In a related item, the Mississippi Department of Employment Security extended its call center hours, providing more opportunities for those affected by tornadoes and flooding to apply for Unemployment Insurance.
Workers may call the agency’s call centers toll-free at 1-888-844-3577 between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m., seven days a week until further notice.
Workers can also apply for Disaster Unemployment Assistance 24 hours a day, seven days a week through the MDES website — mdes.ms.gov.
Workers who do not qualify for the state’s regular Unemployment Insurance program may qualify for Disaster Unemployment Assistance. This includes workers who:
• Are unemployed as a direct result of the disaster.
• Are self-employed.
• Cannot work or perform jobs because of disaster-related injuries.
• Are unable to reach their workplaces or job sites because of the disaster.
• Were to have started work, but are unable to get to or perform their jobs.
• Became the breadwinner or major support of a household because the head of household died as a result of the disaster.
Source: MEMA; MDES