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Trump approves Emergency Disaster Declaration for Alabama counties impacted by Hurricane Michael

Brandon Moseley

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President Donald Trump approved an Emergency Disaster Declaration for the state of Alabama in response to Gov. Kay Ivey’s request on Oct. 11. The Federal Emergency Management Agency Public Assistance Program will provide assistance under category B to Alabama counties impacted by Hurricane Michael.

“I greatly appreciate President Trump approving our request for federal assistance,” Ivey said. “Alabama has suffered damage, but we have also stepped in to help our neighbors. This assistance will help us recover some of the cost of response and recovery efforts conducted by the state and local governments. This will be a huge benefit to the smaller communities in Alabama that have been affected.”

Alabama has received a Federal Emergency Declaration for the state and the following counties: Dale, Geneva, Henry, and Houston. The Emergency Declaration is to help local and state governments cover costs associated with preparing and responding to Hurricane Michael.
Under the Public Assistance Program, assistance will be provided at 75 percent federal funding for approved costs related to the storm.

“Working together with our federal partners is an important part of helping Alabamians move back to some sense of normalcy when impacted by a storm like Hurricane Michael,” Alabama EMA Director Brian Hastings said. “We are extremely thankful that although Hurricane Michael was a historic storm our state did not encounter any loss of life.”

The Alabama Emergency Management Agency is working with all impacted areas to assess damages in order to possibly qualify for additional assistance to aid in the repairs to infrastructure and the collection and disposal of debris.

Hurricane Michael came ashore at Mexico Beach, Florida as a very strong Category Four Hurricane, the strongest storm to ever impact the Florida panhandle. The storm surge destroyed beach front homes while the winds which reached 155 miles per hour destroyed homes and businesses across Florida, Alabama, Georgia, and the Carolinas.

The storm also devastated many farms and ranches where barns were destroyed, fences knocked down, livestock killed, and crops, particularly cotton, was flattened and ruined. The disaster declaration means that farmers and ranchers in Barbour, Dale, Geneva, Henry, and Houston counties may be eligible for assistances through the NRCS.
USDA-Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) State Conservationist for Alabama Ben Malone announced the special financial assistance sign up for Alabama farmers and ranchers who suffered damage to working lands and livestock mortality because of Hurricane Michael.

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Affected producers can sign up for the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP). The first batching period will end on October 26, 2018. A second signup period will end on November 9, 2018.

This assistance is available to individual farmers and ranchers to aid in recovery efforts on their properties and does not apply to local governments or other entities. Farmers can apply for assistance including: Emergency Animal Mortality Management, Clearing and Snagging, and Obstruction Removal. The NRCS recommends that farmers seeking assistance for any mass mortality event immediately notify the Alabama Department of Agriculture & Industries if they haven’t already done so.

Socially disadvantaged, veteran, limited resource, and beginning farmers and ranchers can receive up to 50 percent advanced payment for purchasing materials or contracting.

For more information about NRCS and its programs, visit your local USDA Service Center to determine eligibility. Individuals are not eligible for USDA programs until they have completed the Farm Bill eligibility requirements.

Be sure to notify your crop insurer of Hurricane Michael losses. Inform your home and/or home insurers about any claims. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) may also provide some assistance to homeowners and business owners.

The Alabama Farmers Federation has established a relief fund to directly benefit farmers and ranchers.

“Farmers in south Alabama have received an outpouring of support from neighbors and people across the country,” said Federation President Jimmy Parnell. “Many have asked where they can donate to help farmers who’ve lost their crops and barns, so we have created a special fund within the Alabama Farmers Agriculture Foundation to accept these gifts.”

Donations are tax deductible and may be made at AlabamaFarmersFoundation.org or send checks payable to Alabama Farmers Agriculture Foundation to P.O. Box 11000, Montgomery, AL 36191.

“Hurricane Michael devastated crops, homes, barns and livelihoods in the Wiregrass,” said Parnell, who is also president of the foundation. “Farmers are resilient, but recovery takes time and money. Alabama producers are grateful for financial help from friends and supporters — and covet your thoughts and prayers during the rebuilding process.”

(Original reporting by ALFA’s Brandon McCray contributed to this report.)

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