President Barack Obama issued a disaster declaration for Ray County and 45 others in Missouri impacted by early spring storms and flooding.
The declaration, requested by Gov. Jay Nixon May 20, gives Ray County access to federal assistance in repairing damages caused by severe weather May 8-16. Ray County was also among the 28 counties receiving additional federal financial aid, reimbursing up to 75 percent of eligible emergency expenses. Statewide damages to public property and infrastructure, public utilities and electric cooperatives exceeded $48.7 million.
Presiding Ray County Commissioner Jeff Adams declined to comment on the declaration at press time. Adams did say that Ray County will host a briefing of all counties receiving assistance, and that a date for the future meeting could be set as early as Monday afternoon.
Nixon officially expanded his request for federal assistance to include financial aid May 28. Not all requests receive approval, said SEMA spokesperson Susie Stonner.
“Jasper, Newton and Berry Counties last year got an individual assistance declaration to help cities and businesses, but no declaration for public assistance,” Stonner said. “Every county for which Nixon requested aid met all criteria, which a lot of times is difficult to meet, especially if you have a county with a large population such as Jackson or St. Louis,” Stonner added.
Adams recalls an estimated $100-125 thousand in weather damages to Ray County. He considers the roads “passable” at this point but there’s more to do, including addressing settled water in Hardin, Lawson, Richmond and Orrick. Much of the work will be cutting out damaged ditches and culverts to the county’s north and addressing re-graveling of several roads.
“We appreciate Gov. Nixon’s efforts,” said Commissioner Allen Dale during the weeks spent waiting for the federal ruling. “Everyone’s financial position is tough right now.”