Mo. Gov. Nixon pledges $25M for disaster aid

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) — Gov. Jay Nixon pledged Tuesday to provide $25 million of state aid to help cities and counties recover from flooding in southern and southeastern Missouri.

Nixon said the money will help local governments pay for their flooding response and rebuilding efforts and also will cover the state’s cost of deploying nearly 800 Missouri National Guard members who helped with local law enforcement and other flood-response efforts.

The $25 million is not included in Missouri’s current budget nor in the spending plan passed last week by lawmakers for the new fiscal year that starts July 1. But the state budget does give the governor flexibility to spend money on disaster response efforts.

Nixon’s budget director, Linda Luebbering, said Tuesday that it is too soon to know whether other parts of the state budget will have to be cut to afford the disaster aid. Nixon estimated last week that the budget plan approved by lawmakers spends at least $30 million more than he expects will be available in state revenues — and that was before the additional cost of the state’s disaster aid.

President Barack Obama on Monday issued a major disaster declaration for Butler, Mississippi, New Madrid and Taney counties for recent flooding and for St. Louis County for tornadoes that struck last month.

That declaration will allow federal grants in those areas for temporary housing, home repairs and loans for uninsured property losses. Federal funding also can be used by some government agencies and nonprofit groups for emergency work and repairs to damaged facilities.

When major disaster declarations are declared, the federal government pays 75 percent the costs for public damage assistance with the state and local governments picking up the rest of the cost.

Nixon said his pledge to provide $25 million in state aid should allow rebuilding and recovery efforts to begin quickly.

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