State officials plan to submit paperwork to Washington this week, formally requesting a presidential disaster declaration be issued to help with recovery in Pilger and other cities hit by mid-June tornadoes.
Gov. Dave Heineman says the paperwork is ready for federal officials. Its submission comes on the heels of a presidential disaster declaration being issued for the Mother’s Day storms that caused $20 million in damage to Beaver Crossing, Cordova, and Sutton.
The Nebraska Emergency Management Agency reports $13 million dollars in public assistance has been spent to assist communities hit by tornadoes June 16th and 17th, the most severe of which being the June 16th EF4 tornado that destroyed much of Pilger in northeastern Nebraska. Private expenditures haven’t been calculated, yet.
Even as the state requests federal aid, Gov. Heineman says he has been impressed by the volunteer response to assist communities hit hard by storms, especially the assistance provided in the aftermath of the incredibly destructive tornado that roared through the heart of Pilger.
“We’ve been averaging over a thousand volunteers a day ever since they opened Pilger back up to volunteers to come in and help,” Heineman tells Kevin Thomas, host of Drive Time Lincoln on Nebraska Radio Network affiliate KLIN. “It’s been incredible the enormously positive reaction from our citizens.”
The governor says it is understandable that the focus has been on Pilger, but he reminds Nebraskans Pilger wasn’t the only city that suffered through a destructive spring.
“It’s not just Pilger,” Heineman says. “They happened to get hit worst of all.”
A presidential disaster declaration would make federal assistance available to offset some of the money spent by cities, counties, and the state in recovery efforts. It also would make other federal aid available to residents of the areas affected.