Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

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December 5, 2013

State asks for federal disaster aid

Kokomo hard hit by storms, April flooding

Indiana Gov. Mike Pence is requesting federal disaster aid for Kokomo and Howard County in the wake of two natural disasters in the past eight months.

Pence made the request to President Barack Obama and the Federal Emergency Management Agency Wednesday, about two weeks after touring the devastation in Kokomo from the Nov. 17 tornadoes.

The request could open the door for grants and low-interest loans for residents, as well as low-interest loans for businesses.

“Having seen firsthand the damage in Kokomo and Howard County, as well as other communities throughout Indiana, we are committed to helping Hoosiers recover,” Pence said.

The state is asking for federal aid, at least initially, only for Howard County, where tornadoes either destroyed or heavily damaged 191 homes and left 33,000 homes and businesses without power.

“According to FEMA standards, the damage in Howard County gives us a starting point for a major disaster declaration request. If Howard County is approved, we will have the opportunity to request assistance for additional counties, if damage warrants,” Pence said in a press release.

No one was seriously injured in the Howard County tornadoes, but damage estimates in the state’s request indicate Kokomo could require $4.54 million in direct federal aid and more than $10.5 million in disaster assistance loans.

Kokomo Mayor Greg Goodnight said the aid would be a considerable help in the wake of the storms.

“There are people still in temporary housing situations, there are people who lost their jobs because their employers were displaced. There are a lot of challenges, and we’re just trudging through it, day to day,” Goodnight said.

State officials said local charities had provided more than 15,000 meals to disaster victims as of Nov. 25, and said more than a dozen groups are still in the process of providing aid.

The total financial impact of the storm has yet to be calculated, but state and local officials noted Kokomo was still recovering from a 100-year flood event in April when the tornadoes hit.

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