Gov. Jay Nixon today asked President Barack Obama to declare a major disaster for the state of Missouri as a result of the severe storm system that plagued many parts of the state from May 8 to May 16 with high winds, hail, tornadoes, heavy rain, flooding and flash flooding. The storm system was responsible for seven fatalities, 21 serious injuries, widespread property damage, and, at its peak, more than 150,000 utility customers being without power. Approximately 1,700 customers remain without power in Iron, Madison and Ripley counties as a result of the storm system.
Based on the reports of joint damage assessment teams sent by the Governor to the affected areas last week, Gov. Nixon is specifically asking that 38 counties be declared eligible for individual assistance. Those counties are Adair, Barry, Barton, Bollinger, Camden, Cape Girardeau, Christian, Crawford, Dade, Dallas, Dent, Douglas, Greene, Howell, Iron, Jasper, Jefferson, Knox, Laclede, Lawrence, Madison, McDonald, Newton, Ozark, Perry, Polk, Reynolds, Ripley, St Francois, Ste Genevieve, Shannon, Stone, Sullivan, Texas, Vernon, Washington, Webster, and Wright.
The granting of individual assistance would trigger the potential for direct payments from federal programs to individuals with eligible losses. The damage assessments have estimated the individual assistance needs for temporary housing, repairs, replacement and other needs at almost $5.8 million.
"I saw first-hand the devastation that this storm system brought when I went to Carl Junction, Charity, Fair Grove, Fredericktown, Kirksville and Novinger right after those areas of Missouri were hit," Gov. Nixon said. "The work of thousands of emergency responders and volunteers has been a tremendous help in the immediate aftermath, but many Missouri families and businesses are going to need the financial assistance of the federal government to fully recover."
The Governor's letter to President Obama also requests that Small Business Administration disaster loans be made available to qualifying businesses and homeowners in those 38 Missouri counties. Gov. Nixon noted that 28 of the counties included in the current request were included in previous disaster declarations in the past 12 months.
Gov. Nixon also is awaiting joint federal, state and local damage assessments for damage to public infrastructure in Missouri as a result of the storm. Those reports will form the basis for the Governor's request for public assistance in Missouri counties that will be identified through those assessments. Public assistance would entail a 75 percent reimbursement for disaster-related costs to state and local governments from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).
On the first day of the storms, May 8, Gov. Nixon declared a state of emergency, which activated the State Emergency Operations Center to aid local communities with resource requests. The Governor issued the declaration after being briefed at the State Emergency Management Agency (SEMA).
The Governor conducted visits to Carl Junction, Charity and Fair Grove on May 9; to Fredericktown on May 12; and to Kirksville and Novinger on May 14 to meet with emergency responders and to survey the damage himself. To help Missourians clean up after the storms, he issued an executive order to allow temporary waiving of any statutes or administrative rules or regulations in order to serve the interests of public health and safety. Immediately following that order, DNR Director Mark Templeton waived rules regarding burning of downed tree limbs and brush for counties affected by the storm system.