Bush declares disaster area

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

LINCOLN -- President Bush on Tuesday declared parts of Southwest Nebraska a major disaster area and ordered the federal government to supplement state and local recovery from storms that struck May 28 through June 2.

The declaration makes federal funding available to the state and some local governments and nonprofit organizations.

The declaration covers 15 Nebraska counties: Buffalo, Custer, Dawson, Frontier, Greeley, Hayes, Hitchcock, Howard, Kearney, Lincoln, Logan, Loup, Madison, Valley and Wheeler.

Gov. Dave Heineman had asked for the designation after storms and flooding damaged roads, bridges and culverts. Some public buildings and electrical systems also saw wind damage.

Also this week, the federal Farm Service Agency announced that family farmers in four southern Nebraska counties can now apply for low-interest emergency loans to help them recover from damages caused by storms, tornadoes and flooding from May 4 through June 1.

The counties are Franklin, Gage, Pawnee and Webster.

They became eligible for federal assistance because they are contiguous to one or more of the seven Kansas counties that were designated eligible last week.

The loans can cover up to $500,000 of losses.

Applicants must be family farm operators. Loans can be used to buy feed, seed, fertilizer, livestock or refinance certain debts, and to repair or replace damaged property.

Farmers may apply through their local Farm Service Agency offices.

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