Presidential declaration frees up $6.5 million for flood-damage repair in Montana

Great Falls Tribune

Gov. Brian Schweitzer's office announced Friday that President Barack Obama approved the state's request for a presidential disaster declaration, freeing up $6.5 million in federal aid for state, tribal and local jurisdictions to repair flood-damaged roads and utilities.

"This declaration will mean a faster recovery for our communities hit hard by flooding," U.S. Sen. Jon Tester, D-Mont., said in a news release. Tester is a member of the Homeland Security Committee, which oversees the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

In its June 9 request for the declaration, the state listed $8.6 million in damage to roads and other infrastructure as a result of flooding.

The governor's office said the state and local jurisdictions are responsible for $2.1 million in damage. Now that the disaster declaration has been made, federal dollars will be available for the remaining $6.5 million, according to the governor's office.

Valley and Yellowstone counties each reported just more than $1 million in damage to roads, buildings, equipment and utility systems — the most in the state.

Damage on the Crow Indian Reservation is listed at $879,168.

In northcentral Montana, Fergus County reported $692,608 in damage, while and Judith Basin County reported $457,688 in damage.

Cascade County reported $287,785 in damage — or $3.58 per resident.

U.S. Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont., said the declaration makes the state eligible for the FEMA public assistance program, which includes work on roads, utilities, irrigation, emergency medical care, wastewater treatment and communications.

FEMA will conduct applicant briefings for state, local and tribal officials on how to apply for assistance, he said.

Counties eligible for aid are Big Horn, Blaine, Broadwater, Carbon, Carter, Cascade, Chouteau, Custer, Dawson, Fallon, Fergus, Garfield, Golden Valley, Hill, Judith Basin, McCone, Meagher, Musselshell, Petroleum, Phillips, Powder River, Prairie, Roosevelt, Rosebud, Stillwater, Sweet Grass, Treasure, Valley, Wheatland, Wibaux and Yellowstone.

Eligible reservations are the Crow, Fort Belknap, Northern Cheyenne and Rocky Boy's.