Downed electrical lines Route 79

After the flood: A long row of toppled electrical poles along Route 79.

A federal sign-off last week means that people and businesses in Pike County will be eligible for federal disaster relief in the wake of this year’s flood season.

President Donald Trump approved aid for 20 Missouri counties affected by flooding and tornados, including Pike County as well as St. Charles County and Lincoln County to the south. The state request for federal help said that of 1,650 primary homes inspected in the areas affected by flooding or tornadoes had sustained major damage or been destroyed, alongside 125 of 251 businesses inspected.

“While Missourians have been working hard to rebuild and pull together to support one another – as we always do – the President’s action means important federal assistance will be available to help Missouri families recover in these 20 counties. I urge them to register for FEMA assistance now,” Missouri Gov. Mike Parson said in a press release.

They can do so at disasterassistance.gov or by calling FEMA’s toll-free number 1-800-621-FEMA between 7 a.m. and 10 p.m.

Resources available to individuals fall into four categories: housing assistance for renters and home-owners forced out of their primary residence; other needs assistance for disaster-related expenses; low-interest-disaster loans from the Small Business Administration to cover uninsured property losses sustained by homeowners and renters; and a variety of other disaster assistance programs, including crisis counseling and disaster-related unemployment assistance.

Officials with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) will canvas the 20 counties, FEMA also announced last week. These Disaster Survivor Assistance Teams will help residents navigate the federal disaster aid system conduct home inspections. As a measure against fraud, residents are encouraged to ask to see federal photo ID badges of anybody claiming to represent FEMA.

FEMA will also open Recovery Centers in some of the affected counties, a sort of one-stop-shop for post disaster assistance. Most aid programs have a deadline of sixty days after the disaster declaration on July 9.

In addition to the damage incurred by home- and business-owners, local governments incurred expenses that would be budget-breaking without outside aid. Clarksville, Louisiana and Pike County all reported tens of thousands of dollars of costs to state and federal disaster authorities.

In June, officials with FEMA and SEMA toured Louisiana. They were there to see if the county met the threshold necessary to receive federal aid, and looked at washed out retaining walls and the torn-up detour taken by trucks to avoid the flooded Route 79. Those assessments in 74 counties in the state were expected to continue through the middle of July.

As the county continues to plan out its recovery from an unusually intense flood season, the Mississippi River is due to dip beneath flood stage later this week in both Louisiana and Clarksville.

Send questions and comments to athorp@pikecountynews.com.

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