Jasper County is one of 20 counties in Missouri to be approved for federal funding assistance after President Donald Trump signed Governor Mike Parson’s major disaster declaration request on Tuesday.
The federal funding will allow residents and businesses impacted by flooding, tornadoes and severe storms that began April 29 and after to apply for Federal Emergency Management assistance for things such as temporary housing, housing repairs and the replacement of household items.
The 19 other counties included in the major disaster declaration include Andrew, Atchison, Boone, Buchanan, Carroll, Chariton, Cole, Greene, Holt, Jackson, Lafayette, Lincoln, Livingston, Miller, Osage, Pike, Platte, Pulaski, and St. Charles counties. There still is no word for McDonald or Newton counties.
Gov. Parson made the request on June 24 where preliminary damage assessments concluded 953 homes were destroyed or sustained major damage throughout the state, as well as 125 businesses. The governor visited Carl Junction the day after an EF3 tornado hit the region on May 22 and damaged over 300 homes.
Delmar Haase, Carl Junction's emergency management director and police chief, said they’re excited to hear Trump signed off on the declaration, but it only marks the beginning of what can be an extensive process.
“Some of these things take a long time to get done, but this is the first step,” said Haase. “We’ve been told that FEMA’s going to come here with resources to talk to people about repairs. We’re still waiting to see when that’s going to happen. It’s not an immediate process, but it’s the right step for us to get some reimbursement the city spent because it’s somewhere in the neighborhood of $200,000 to $400,000.”
Mark Powers, Mayor of Carl Junction, said the approval gives the city a good chance of being refunded for tornado recovery expenses, but they’re currently in limbo until they meet with state and federal emergency assistance groups.
“We won’t really know until the SEMA (State Emergency Management Agency) meeting is done, but if he (Trump) hadn’t signed it, we would be out the money, for sure,” he said. “We have a pathway forward, now. We’re hoping to be reimbursed, somewhat.”
Missing counties from declaration
The declaration does not apply to Anderson or Neosho residents — yet. Emergency management officials in Newton and McDonald counties hope to hear that their two counties are included in the current declaration as an add-on. Floods on June 23 damaged many houses and businesses in Neosho and Anderson; those officials had paperwork ready to submit soon after.
"The original cutoff date for the other areas was on June 21," said Charla Geller, director of the Newton County Emergency Management Agency. "Our flooding happened two days later. We knew all along that we would not be in this initial group, and would have to be added as an add-on."
Gregg Sweeten, director of the McDonald County Emergency Management Agency, said that once individual assistance is opened for McDonald County, his agency is ready to open a resource center for victims.
"We can’t set up a disaster resource center until we get a FEMA declaration," Sweeten said. "Once that happens, we're ready to go. We're ahead, but not yet approved."
Almost 40 homes in Neosho and almost 80 homes and businesses in Anderson were damaged by floods. Small business owners would be able to apply for aid through the Small Business Association, and farmers who suffered crop or livestock loss could receive aid through the Farm Service Administration, Sweeten said.
If Anderson and Neosho are added onto the current declaration, it will represent a fast turnaround for aid, Geller said.
"Some of these counties have been waiting for aid for weeks now," Geller said.