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Midwest Gets More Generous Flood Relief

September 23, 1993| From Associated Press

WASHINGTON — President Clinton set a new standard for disaster relief Wednesday to ensure that all nine Midwestern states damaged by summer flooding qualify for additional federal aid.

Under the new standard, the Federal Emergency Management Agency will reimburse the states for 90% of eligible disaster costs rather than 75%.

"The scope of this disaster is so great that it has the potential to have a dampening effect on our entire national economy, and we must respond accordingly," Clinton said in a statement. "Therefore, today I have established a second standard that will be used to address those disasters with wider economic impact."

Clinton earlier had announced that FEMA would pay 90% of disaster costs in states where flood damage totaled at least $64 a person. But as of last week, none of the nine Midwestern states had met that standard and most did not expect to attain it.

The President announced Wednesday that FEMA would allow 90% reimbursement when overall damage from a disaster amounts to 0.1% of the nation's gross domestic product. In this case, flood damage was calculated at $7.6 billion, or 0.12% of GDP.

The nine affected states are: Minnesota, Wisconsin, Missouri, Iowa, Illinois, Nebraska, South Dakota, Kansas and North Dakota.

Michael Lawrence, a spokesman for Illinois Gov. Jim Edgar, said the new formula "will mean millions of dollars in additional assistance to flood-stricken communities."

Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) said the decision means Clinton is keeping his word about treating flood victims just as hurricane victims were assisted last year. "We'll do even better than the victims of Hurricane Andrew," he said.

FEMA said that while flood damage estimates continue to grow, states thus far would qualify for an estimated $468.6 million in public assistance under the 90-10 split, compared with $390.5 million under a 75-25 split.

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