Damage has been calculated at more than $50 million in Alcorn, Benton, Lafayette, Tippah and Tishomingo counties, and the disaster declaration sets in motion the process of securing relief - temporary and long term - for individuals, businesses, and public entities damaged by the severe weather that claimed six lives.
Gov. Barbour announced the presidential approval Friday for the Northeast Mississippi counties.
The declaration makes funding available - some in direct grants to individual home owners whose dwellings suffered damage making the houses at least temporarily uninhabitable. The grants can be as large as $29,900, and low-interest loans handled through the Small Business Administration can be sought in much higher amounts.
Niccole Pressley, a spokesperson for the Mississippi Emergency Management Agency, said assistance also can include emergency food stamps eligibility for people without resources to feed themselves. That same assistance was available for storm victims in counties hard hit by a huge storm system in the state April 24.
Programs available in the five newly approved counties include the Households Program, Disaster Unemployment Assistance, Crisis Counseling, Disaster Legal Services, Disaster Food Stamp Program and Small Business Administration loans.
Residents may register online at www.disaster assistance.gov or by calling 1-800-621-FEMA (3362) or 1-800-462-7585 (TTY) for the hearing and speech impaired. The toll-free telephone numbers will operate from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. (local time) Monday through Sunday until further notice.
The Recovery Office Director is Larry Bowman and he can be reached a (601) 933-6886.
MEMA and its federal counterpart, FEMA, coordinate efforts for assistance involving aid to citizens, local governments, non-profit associations, state agencies and businesses for needs as diverse as temporary housing and water control measures.
FEMA, in particular, received harsh and mostly justified criticism for its slow response following Hurricane Katrina in Mississippi and Louisiana in 2005. Intentional beefing-up and re-evaluation led to improvements.
It is noteworthy that even in a political atmosphere filled with broad and sharp criticism of the federal government as too big and too costly, no one hesitates about turning first to Washington for major disaster assistance and recovery.
The storm-damaged counties, families and businesses in Northeast Mississippi should pursue available federal relief - some of which will help rebuild shredded dreams of a lifetime.