City eligible for disaster funds

Published 3:19 pm Monday, September 5, 2011

Suffolk now is eligible for federal disaster assistance to aid recovery from Hurricane Irene.

The quick decision by the Federal Emergency Management Agency makes federal assistance available to the state government and 22 local governments to recoup costs associated with the hurricane. Gov. Bob McDonnell requested the declaration Friday, and the government’s positive response came back the same day.

“I want to thank FEMA for making a quick decision on our request for disaster assistance,” McDonnell said. “I expect to pursue additional disaster assistance once our damage assessments are complete.”

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The declaration makes FEMA’s Public Assistance Program available to cover eligible government and certain nonprofit costs for damage to critical infrastructure, roads, buildings and equipment, debris removal and emergency services.

That doesn’t mean the money will start flowing right away, though. According to a press release from McDonnell’s office, the reimbursement process can take months and, in some cases, years.

After further evaluation, additional localities may be added.

In addition to the Public Assistance Program, Hazard Mitigation Grant Program funds were approved for the entire state. The Hazard Mitigation program provides funds for government projects that help reduce disaster risks by protecting homes and businesses against future damage.

Virginia has not yet requested federal assistance for individuals or businesses. Federal, state and local governments are still evaluating damage to homes and private property. A decision to pursue disaster assistance for individuals and businesses will be made this week, McDonnell’s office said.