FEMA gives aid update
Relief fund nears $9.3 billion
FEMA released figures of its nearly $9.3 billion dollar disaster aid as of Oct. 20.
Of the peak 49,000 temporary housing units in place earlier this year, nearly 15,500 households have found other living accommodations. Temporary housing units are returned to FEMA at a rate of approximately 250 units per week.
Approximately $1.1 billion has been approved in Public Assistance categories, not including debris removal.
To date, Mississippi has disbursed $873 million to PA applicants for rebuilding projects including bridges, public buildings and utilities: $315 million for emergency protective measures, $364 million to repair public facilities, $295 million to restore public utilities, $55 million to restore public recreational facilities such as state parks, $29 million to repair roads and bridges and $1.6 million to repair water control devices such as reservoirs and irrigation channels.
Grants also are being approved and disbursed through the following programs: 216,363 individuals and families have been approved for housing assistance totaling $843 million and 133,788 Mississippi Katrina survivors have been approved for $410 million in other needs assistance.
More than $1.3 billion has been approved for land-based debris removal. About $231 million will be disbursed for marine debris removal. Approximately 45 million cubic yards of eligible land-based debris has been removed from public and private property in 79 of 82 counties; FEMA has given a six-month extension for the removal of land-based debris in the inundated areas of the three coastal counties.
The U.S. Coast Guard has cleared 32,937 cubic yards or about 3 percent of marine debris. Marine debris removal will be 100 percent federally funded until Aug. 28.
More than $2.5 billion was paid by FEMA through its National Flood Insurance Program to 17,068 policy holders. Nearly $3 billion was paid by FEMA to other federal agencies to complete specific tasks or mission assignments during response and recovery such as emergency medical assistance and debris removal.
Approximately 33,575 FEMA-provided temporary housing units are occupied, down from a peak of 49,000.
In addition, nearly $2.6 billion in U.S. Small Business Administration loans has been approved for Mississippians: Nearly $2.1 billion in loans to 30,971 homeowners and renters, $522 million to 4,306 businesses and more than $18.8 million to 327 small business owners for working capital.
Click Subject for More Detail - This is oriented mostly toward Gulfport/Biloxi region, but the stats are there for all if you click the hyperlink.
FEMA Public Assistance - $880,239,470
Debris Removal – 24,009,807 cubic yards
FEMA Individual Assistance - $1,240,193,410
FEMA Temporary Housing – 36,006 units; 97,000 occupants
Community Development Block Grants – 165000 applications
Population – 98% of pre-Hurricane Katrina population
Small Business Administration Housing Assistance $1,838,406,100
Small Business Administration Business Loans - $452,219,600
Sales Tax Collections - $5,727,631 local portions (July 2006)
County Unemployment Rates – Harrison County 9.6% (August 2006)
2006 Monthly Gross Gaming Revenues – $68,235,122 (August 2006)
Hotel Inventory - 9,524 rooms
Mississippi Housing Damage Summary for Hurricane Katrina - 234,284
Gulfport-Biloxi International Airport Activity Statistics - August 2006
Number of Building Permits Issued Since Hurricane Katrina – 176 New Single Family (July 2006)
And this goes with the article:
Congressman says post-Katrina home grant program moving too slowly
PASCAGOULA, Miss. - U.S. Rep. Gene Taylor is criticizing the slow pace of Mississippi's $3 billion Homeowner Grant Program and urging that the process be sped up to help coast residents fighting to recover from Hurricane Katrina.
"I am more frustrated than most," Taylor, D-Miss., told The Mississippi Press newspaper. "The state's got to get going on this."
Taylor also was critical of state Sen. Tommy Robertson, R-Moss Point, and state Reps. Jim Beckett, R-Bruce, and Jim Simpson Jr., R-Gulfport, who stand to profit from a contract that allows them to use their professional legal services to complete homeowners' grants.
"The state constitution spells out that you're a public servant and you're not going to enrich yourself off public dollars," Taylor said. "I encourage the state Ethics Commission to look at the constitution."
Mississippi's Homeowner Grant Program is part of $5 billion the federal government gave the state in January to help homeowners who were flooded during the Aug. 29, 2005, hurricane. The program provides that qualified homeowners who lived outside the federally designated flood plain can receive grants of up to $150,000.
Out of 17,000 Coast homeowners who applied for grants, 75 checks have been written, Mississippi Development Authority spokesman Scott Hamilton said earlier this month.
Taylor said Congress had approved the funding before Christmas.
"Here we are, 10 months later, and people don't have their money," he said. "The whole idea was to do something quickly."
He said that since July, dozens of homeowners have contacted his office asking why they had not received any money from the state.
Several residents haven't heard anything from the state since they applied for the grants in April, he said, adding that the U.S. Housing and Urban Development, the federal agency that approved the $5 billion, is not holding up the process.
Taylor said he met with HUD representatives. "I asked them directly if they were responsible," he said. "They said no."
Taylor said his office sent a letter to Gov. Haley Barbour, who oversees the grant program, urging that the process be given more urgency. Barbour said last week that he also is frustrated by the pace of distributing the homeowners' grants.
Hamilton, who was leaving the MDA this week, said the state had expected the program to be completed in July. Hamilton blamed the sluggishness on problems dealing with hundreds of insurance companies and hundreds of mortgage companies.
"We hoped for a more automated system," Hamilton said earlier. "It's been much more manual."
But Taylor noted that fewer applicants applied for grants than the state had expected.
Taylor said he has real concerns about three state lawmakers profiting from the contract to complete grants. Under a contract awarded in competitive bid process, Robertson and Beckett close grants for homeowners who do not have mortgages or whose mortgage companies did not choose to participate in the Homeowner Grant Program.
Robertson and Beckett, who formed their company in March with the intention of bidding on the contract, receive $250 for every grant they complete in Harrison and Jackson counties. Between 2,000 and 5,000 homeowners are expected to close grants in those counties, which means the two lawmakers could make $1.2 million.
Robertson and Beckett also hired Simpson to complete grants for homeowners in the first judicial district of Harrison County. Robertson refused to disclose how much Simpson is being paid.
Because federal money is funding the Homeowner Grant Program, the three state lawmakers said it is legal for them to make money off it, and Barbour agreed.
Taylor, however, disagreed.
"I asked HUD, `Will these grant checks say The United States of America, or the state of Mississippi?'" Taylor said. "They said the checks say, state of Mississippi.
"I have trouble believing a state lawmaker can be doing this and not be violating Section 109 of the state Constitution," the congressman said. "In fairness, someone who is a judge needs to take a look at it and enforce the constitution."