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US$111 Million+ Fed Grants For Gulf Coast Recovery


More Than $111 Million In Federal Grants For Gulf Coast Recovery

Biloxi, Miss. -- More than $111 million in federal grants for large projects - those costing $1 million or more - have recently been approved to help Mississippi pay for the Gulf Coast's recovery from Hurricane Katrina.

The projects represent the wide variety of destruction caused by the costliest storm in U.S. history and the corresponding need for restoration. They include, but are not limited to:

* Replacing a fishing pier and rebuilding the community center in Biloxi

* Removing silt and sand from a Gulfport harbor

* Replacing the water distribution and sewer collection system in Waveland

* Building a new school gym in Greene County

* Repairing water service at Buccaneer State Park

* Restoration work at the Beauvoir historical site

* Other grants are for services necessary to respond to the disaster.

"The one good thing to come from this disaster is that all the new work will be done to current codes and standards which means it will often be stronger and better than what the storm destroyed," said Sid Melton, director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Mississippi Transitional Recovery Office (TRO).

These projects will be fully funded by FEMA Public Assistance program grants.

"In each case, FEMA works closely with the Mississippi Emergency Management Agency (MEMA) and local officials to assess the exact nature of the devastation and develop the best plan to address the issues," said James Walker, head of the TRO Public Assistance section. "Based on this information and other data, FEMA, working with its local partners, then sets a grant amount to cover a project's cost.

We generally do not release these amounts publicly until all contracts for the work on a project have been awarded."

MEMA administers the Public Assistance program. Amounts for recent large projects - since Aug. 1, 2007 - range from $1 million to more than $30 million. In many instances, FEMA pays to replace rather than repair a damaged structure. The agency's policy is to pay for full replacement when the cost to repair a structure is greater than 50 percent of the replacement cost.

Grants for work in Gulfport:

* A grant for the non-insured costs to replace the East Ward Community Education and Technology Service Center Building owned by the Gulfport School District. Part of the damaged building was constructed in 1921 with an addition in 1960. The new building will comply with current codes and standards.

* A grant to remove silt and sand Katrina deposited in the entrance channel and harbor basin used by the Gulfport small craft harbor. The scope of work includes: manpower, equipment and tools; two bathymetric surveys; one side scan sonar survey; dredging of the harbor area; and disposal of the dredged material.

Grants for work in Biloxi:

* A grant to replace the Old D'Iberville Bridge Fishing Pier. Katrina's waves knocked down about a quarter of the 2,080-foot pier and damaged the rest beyond repair. The new pier will be more storm-resistant since current code specifies, among other features, concrete pilings and caps. The new pier will be lighted and capable of supporting light vehicles for emergency accommodations and a vehicle turn-a-round.

* A grant for non-insured costs for reconstruction of the Biloxi Community Center. Katrina inundated the building with about four feet of saltwater. High winds and debris also damaged the 16,000 square foot structure.
A grant to cover the non-insured costs to replace a building at Mercy Cross High School.

Grants for work in Waveland:

* An additional grant for work on Waveland's sewer collection system. Katrina caused extensive damage to the system south of the CSX Railroad tracks, including leaking sewer pipes, broken sewer service lines, damaged man holes and marginally operating lift stations.

* A grant to replace the city's water distribution system that sustained numerous line breaks, broken hydrants and other damage caused by the storm.

* A grant to cover Waveland's costs for removal of unprecedented quantities of storm related debris. City residents pushed concrete, broken slabs, white goods, vegetative and construction and demolition material to the rights of way throughout the community.

* An additional grant to cover costs of replacing the gas distribution network that suffered severe damage from Hurricane Katrina due to salt water corrosion and surge-uprooted trees.

* A grant to repair water service at Buccaneer State Park near Waveland.

FEMA obligated an additional grant for repair and preservation of Beauvoir, the retirement home of Confederate president Jefferson Davis, that sustained extensive damage from Katrina's heavy winds and storm surge. Built in 1852, Beauvoir is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and designated as a National Historic Landmark and a Mississippi Historic Landmark. Among other things, this grant funds elevation of the prominent Gulf Coast feature above the Advisory Base Flood Elevation.

In addition to its previous grants for repair of Hancock Medical Center in Bay St. Louis, FEMA added a new grant to cover uninsured costs. Katrina flooded this critical care facility and rain-soaked ceilings and walls later molded.

In Greene County, a FEMA grant will pay the non-insured costs to build a new gymnasium at Sandhill Middle School. The gymnasium, first constructed in the 1920s, was relocated to its present site in the 1940s.

FEMA provided a grant for additional funding to cover accounting services for MEMA. An accounting firm hired by MEMA tracks Katrina recovery funds and ensures state and local contracting compliance. The firm also works side by side with MEMA's Public Assistance professionals and Mississippi's Office of the State Auditor, assisting them in reviewing obligated funding for qualified and authorized projects. These accounting oversight and compliance services are essential in enabling Mississippi to manage and review its reconstruction efforts in an open and effective manner. Prior to the present grant, MEMA has received previous reimbursements of more than $40 million for accounting services.

In total, FEMA has obligated more than $2.2 billion in Public Assistance grants to Mississippi and MEMA has paid out over $1.3 billion to Public Assistance applicants

Under the Stafford Act, which created FEMA's Public Assistance program, the federal share of eligible projects is set at a minimum of 75 percent, with state and local governments providing the remaining 25 percent. Following certain extreme situations, the President may increase the federal share to 90 percent with a 10 percent state and local match. For the unprecedented disaster of Hurricane Katrina, FEMA will provide 100 percent funding for all eligible projects.

FEMA coordinates the federal government's role in preparing for, preventing, mitigating the effects of, responding to, and recovering from all domestic disasters, whether natural or man-made, including acts of terror.

ENDS

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