LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) – FEMA, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, has again denied Nebraska’s request for a disaster declaration for severe storms, tornados, straight-line winds, and flooding from July 15 to September 17, 2019.
The original declaration request identified 16 counties seeking federal assistance for ongoing damages to public infrastructure and three counties who requested additional assistance for individuals. Governor Pete Ricketts had appealed when it was denied last month.
FEMA concluded the losses to the extreme weather were not of the severity and magnitude that warrants a major disaster declaration, only about $2-million dollars. The state had hoped the on-going impact to local budgets and the need to repair damages would sway the decision.
Ricketts says that while the denials are disappointing, there is a process in place to assist counties that meet a certain threshold when FEMA denies a request with the state currently reviewing what can be provided to counties through that process at this time.
The governor issued a state emergency declaration in the aftermath of the storms and flooding, and Bryan Tuma, assistant director of NEMA – the Nebraska Emergency Management Agency – says says his staff will assess eligibility for reimbursement under the state program, which can reimburse eligible applicants with a 50% cost share for the amount of damages exceeding the designated threshold.