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Federal Disaster Aid Tops $1.5 Million Mark

(Lincoln, Neb.) (Nov. 20, 1997) - Federal disaster assistance for Nebraska communities to help pay certain costs associated with last month's winter storm Thursday surpassed the $1.5 million mark, according to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).

"We expect to see this figure grow significantly in the next few days as more damage survey reports are completed and approved," said FEMA Deputy Federal Coordinating Officer Curt Musgrave. "The federal/state inspection teams have really been working hard to keep the process moving so that we could get money to the State quickly."

Governor Ben Nelson said he was pleased that more federal dollars were coming to the State so quickly. "To be just three weeks into this disaster and already finishing this amount of work is a credit to our local, state and federal partnership," he added.

The obligation of federal funds to the State of Nebraska is for payment to local communities and certain non-profit organizations that incurred eligible expenses for debris removal and emergency protective measures.

In Public Assistance disasters, federal reimbursement is always made directly to the State which then disburses funds to local entities. In the case of smaller projects, federal funds are disbursed based on the estimated damages. For larger projects, such as debris removal for the cities of Lincoln and Omaha, the money is disbursed in increments, based on periodic billings as the work progresses.

The $1.5 million, which includes FEMA's initial allocation last week of $307,834, is earmarked for the following communities: Bennington, Cordova, Dwight, Fairmont, Gretna, Hickman, LaVista, Milligan, Papillion, Omaha, Springfield and Weston. Initial obligations for the City of Lincoln are close on the heels of this obligation, federal officials said. Lincoln submitted its first request for federal assistance two weeks ago and field teams have been conducting damage surveys for the past 10 days.

Currently, damage survey work is considered complete in more than half the 39 counties designated for federal disaster assistance. FEMA and state officials estimate that all field work for writing damage survey reports, excluding local and state parks, will be completed by Monday. Inspection teams will be surveying the parks beginning Friday and are likely to finish within the next two weeks.

Counties eligible for disaster assistance under the Presidential disaster declaration are: Adams, Banner, Buffalo, Butler, Cass, Cheyenne, Clay, Custer, Dawson, Dodge, Douglas, Fillmore, Franklin, Frontier, Furnas, Gosper, Hall, Hamilton, Harlan, Hayes, Hitchcock, Kearney, Kimball, Lancaster, Lincoln, Nuckolls, Otoe, Phelps, Polk, Red Willow, Saline, Sarpy, Saunders, Scotts Bluff, Seward, Thayer, Washington, Webster, and York.

Updated: December 8, 1997