November 25, 2015

Presidential disaster declaration granted in wake of Pilger tornado

Federal officials have informed Gov. Dave Heineman his request for a presidential disaster declaration in wake of the Pilger tornado has been granted.

The declaration covers more than just the Pilger tornado, extending to cover damage from tornadoes and thunderstorms through southern and northeastern Nebraska between June 14th and the 21st.

Still, the biggest damage was done by an EF-4 tornado that ripped through the heart of Pilger, destroying more than half the town.

President Barack Obama has approved the presidential disaster declaration for 12 counties, which suffered storm damage from severe storms, tornadoes, straight-line winds, and flooding.

“We appreciate the approval of the disaster declaration for Public Assistance,” said Gov. Heineman said in a written statement issued by his office. “The federal government and local entities have been good partners working with the State as we assessed the severe and extensive damage that occurred throughout Nebraska. I am proud of Nebraskans for coming together and helping each other in challenging times.”

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Region VII office notified the governor that the Public Assistance portion of his request had been approved, according to the governor’s office. Public assistance can help offset the cost of clean-up, even repair or replacement of any infrastructure damaged by the storms, including roads, bridges, sewers, and power systems.

Public assistance has been extended to the counties of Cedar, Cuming, Dakota, Dixon, Franklin, Furnas, Harlan, Kearney, Phelps, Stanton, Thurston, and Wayne Counties.

Federal assistance to help individuals from Cedar, Cuming, Dixon, Stanton and Wayne Counties to recover from the storm is pending, according to FEMA officials [CORRECTION: We incorrectly reported earlier individual assistance had been granted. We apologize for the error].

“The public assistance declaration will help Nebraska recover some of the costs of responding to the disaster and will help fund rebuilding public infrastructure damaged by this disaster,” said Bryan Tuma, assistant director of Nebraska Emergency Management Agency in a written statement. “NEMA will work closely with local governments to help speed up the recovery process.”

Public assistance damage is expected to exceed $13 million.

NEMA will coordinate with the Federal Emergency Management Agency in assessing damages and distributing aid.


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