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Flood assistance increases as area rivers continue to recede

On July 9, President Donald Trump approved the request made by Missouri Gov. Mike Parson on May 24 to declare 20 Missouri counties as major natural disaster areas. Doing so, Parson said, would expedite assistance to those areas regarding clean-up, survey and rebuilding. The declaration applies to the areas affected by tornadoes, severe storms and flooding that began in late April and still impact large parts of the state, including Lincoln and St. Charles counties.

The declaration allows residents in the affected areas to register for FEMA [Federal Emergency Management Agency] assistance, to secure temporary housing, replacement of lost or ruined articles, and repair of household goods that can be salvaged. It also makes the Individual Assistance program available to residents in the affected areas. In a press release, Parson said, “This is important news for Missouri families and communities that have been hit so hard by the continuing flooding, tornadoes, and severe storms this year.” He went on to urge Missourians to register for FEMA assistance as soon as possible and to thank the federal government for its largesse.

The deadline for assistance is 60 days after the disaster date has been proclaimed by the president; in this case, Sept. 9.

The state and FEMA are setting up Disaster Recovery Centers in affected counties; however, officials strongly advise those needing help to register online at DisasterAssistance.gov or by calling the FEMA hotline at (800) 621-3362 from 7 a.m.-10 p.m., seven days a week. Those who require a TTY connection can call (800) 462-7585. Applications for low-interest federal disaster loans, through the U.S. Small Business Administration, are available at disasterloan.sbs.gov/ela.

FEMA-credentialed teams began door-to-door outreach and registration for federal Individual Assistance in flood-impacted areas on Sunday, July 14. Individual Assistance can help with temporary housing, housing repairs and the replacement of household items. The county website [sccmo.org] suggests that home and business owners and renters document losses through the use of photographs and receipts.

While the area has suffered some tornado damage, the biggest concern, by far, has been the severe flooding along the Missouri and Mississippi Rivers, and the smaller tributaries and streams. The county’s Damage Assessment staff will be posted to West Alton and other areas to issue detailed damage assessments, which are required for all structures damaged by flooding. Such assessments will streamline insurance claims and may allow property owners to qualify for federal assistance programs in the future. To schedule a damage assessment, home and business owners should call (636) 949-7345, between 8 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday through Friday, once the property is safely accessible.

County ordinances require a building permit to repair flood-damaged structures regardless of the type of work. Examples that require a building permit include, but are not limited to, drywall replacement, electrical work, siding replacement, roofing, door replacement and flooring. Electrical, mechanical and plumbing work require county licensed contractors.

The county’s Division of Building and Code Enforcement has the following recommendations when hiring a contractor to ensure safety and quality:

• Ask family and friends for recommendations

• Always get three bids before hiring

• Obtain a contract and make clear expectations of work

• Obtain the building permit [when required] yourself or require a copy of the building permit prior to construction

• Do not pay upfront – instead, pay at certain milestones as work is completed

• When complete, obtain a mechanic’s lien waiver

• Keep a copy of all receipts, invoices and other documents.

The July 9 declaration marks the second major disaster declaration for Missouri in just under two months. In mid-May, Parson requested assistance for 13 widely dispersed counties, to help with tornado and flood damage. The president approved that request on May 20.

On May 21, the governor declared a state of emergency in response to continuing heavy weather, forecasts for tornadoes and rivers rising to dangerously high levels. He activated the Missouri National Guard on May 27 to assist with flood watch efforts. Ultimately, these exertions led to the July 9 declaration.

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