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FEMA approves more than $43M for tornado recovery efforts

TORNADOLOUISVILLE — U.S. Sens. Thad Cochran (R-Miss.) and Roger Wicker (R-Miss.), with Rep. Alan Nunnelee (R-Miss.), report approval for more than $43.5 million in federal grant awards linked to work to rebuild tornado-damaged Louisville and Winston County, including $34.5 million to support restoration of a plywood manufacturing plant.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) informed the lawmakers that four FEMA Public Assistance grants have been approved to offset the costs of recovery efforts related to the April 28 tornado that hit Louisville and Winston County. The largest award, worth $34.5 million, to the city of Louisville will reimburse 75 percent of the costs to reestablish a plywood manufacturing plant. Three other grants, totaling $10.8 million, for Winston County and the Mississippi Emergency Management Agency (MEMA) are linked to continued work to restore medical care services in the region.

“These grants represent a significant obligation by the federal government to see that Louisville and Winston County move forward as whole communities, which includes jobs and economic growth. Reviving the promise of hundreds of new manufacturing jobs is an important part of the recovery plan for this area,” Cochran said. “Regarding medical services, our goal is to get the Winston Medical Center repaired and operational as soon as possible. FEMA is coordinating with state and local officials to see that this process moves forward expeditiously.”

Restoration of the Natron Plywood Plant in Louisville has been identified by city and county leaders as a major priority in the aftermath of the storm. The plant, which before the storm was scheduled to open in July, is expected to initially employ more than 200 local residents with an estimated potential workforce of 400 workers. The total project cost associated with the $34.5 million grant is $46.0 million.

Two grants awarded to Winston County, $4.9 million and $4.8 million, will support replacing two county-owned warehouses, including one removed to accommodate a mobile disaster hospital. These grants will offset costs associated with repairing buildings and equipment that were damaged by the tornadoes.

MEMA will receive $1.0 million to offset costs for emergency protective maneuvers it has undertaken to restore medical care delivery after the Winston Medical Center sustained severe damage from the April storm. This work involves ongoing coordination with the Mississippi State Department of Health and other medical services organizations to ensure continuity of medical care delivery in the area. In September, FEMA approved a $1.09 million grant for the Winston County Medical Foundation.

The funding for each of the three grants represents 75 percent of the costs associated with these projects. Funding will be awarded to MEMA for distribution to the awardees.

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