Mississippi Lawmakers To Meet To Address Disaster Needs Funding

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Damage in Tupelo after the April 28, 2014, tornado / Courtesy of @tabithahawk

(WREG-TV) The Mississippi Emergency Management Agency could get up to $20 million for disaster response and recovery costs.

A special legislative session to decide this will be held Thursday, May 8, at 1 p..m., Gov. Phil Bryant announced Tuesday.

The state was hit hard by tornadoes last week, and initial estimates show damages could exceed $13.5 million, with that number likely changing as assessments are completed.

Itawamba, Lee, Lowndes, Madison, Rankin, Wayne and Winston counties were declared eligible for FEMA’s Individual Assistance program and reimbursement assistance with eligible costs for emergency response efforts and debris removal through FEMA’s Public Assistance program.

Individual Assistance was also extended to Jones, Leake, Montgomery, Simpson and Warren counties Tuesday, and the state is also seeking expanded Public Assistance aid.

“Residents across Mississippi are suffering as a result of last week’s deadly tornadoes, and it is imperative that we provide the necessary resources for response and recovery,” Gov. Phil Bryant said.

“I am hopeful the Legislature will appropriately address the funding needs for this most recent disaster and will provide a sustainable method for satisfying responsibilities the state has for ongoing work from other disasters,” he added.

MEMA estimates the state is still responsible for $20 million for work needed because of 13 other disasters.

The federal government is responsible for 75 percent of the costs as the work is completed at the local level, with MEMA and local governments each responsible for 12.5 percent of eligible costs.

The federal government covers all expenses for aid to individuals and households following a federal disaster declaration.

If there is not a federal disaster declaration and cost sharing structure, MEMA must pay the disaster response costs. For instance, a tornado in Covington County and flooding along the Pearl River in April 2014 did not qualify for federal reimbursement.