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story.lead_photo.caption Pictured left to right are Callaway County Emergency Management director Michelle Kidwell, western district commissioner Roger Fischer and south Callaway business owner Danny Baumgartner. The group toured flood damage in July 2019 in north Jefferson City in June following historic flooding along the Missouri River. Photo by Quinn Wilson / News Tribune.

FEMA conducted its reassessment of Callaway County on Thursday to determine eligibility for federal individual assistance.

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FEMA worked alongside state and county emergency management officials, including Callaway County EMA Director Michelle Kidwell, as they toured residential damage in Mokane and Steedman. The reassessments took place in four Missouri counties Thursday, including Callaway, Cooper, Gasconade and Howard counties.

"Together with the state, we are gathering data to determine if federal assistance is needed," said Nikki Gaskins, FEMA's media relations specialist.

Gaskins explained the assessments are now complete, and FEMA would compile all of the data gathered and send it to Missouri Gov. Mike Parson. After this, the governor will determine whether handling the damages is beyond state and local capabilities and, if so, will submit a written request to President Donald Trump.

"The damage assessments are not a guarantee that any county will be added to the disaster declaration," Gaskins said.

Only residential damage was assessed throughout the county Thursday. Kidwell said the Small Business Association, which assesses businesses, was not a part of Thursday's reviews.

Garth MacDonald, public information officer with SBA's office, said the SBA is generally only involved with initial assessments, not reassessments.

"We generally always participate in initial assessments, but this reassessment is up to FEMA," MacDonald said.

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Businesses would be eligible to receive assistance from FEMA and the SBA if Callaway County is included in the disaster declaration.

"If FEMA determines we qualify for individual assistance declaration, then the businesses will automatically be included and will be offered SBA eligibility options," Kidwell said.

In the meantime, business owners in Callaway may apply for SBA economic injury loans, MacDonald said. This can be done online or at the SBA Business Recovery Center at Lincoln University.

"For all of the counties touching the declared counties, all of their small businesses and most nonprofits are able to apply with SBA for economic injury loans," MacDonald explained. "However, they are not eligible for physical damages to be covered, but they are eligible for economic injury funds during this recovery process."

South Callaway business owner Danny Baumgartner was disappointed in the fast-tracked reassessment of the county. He still holds hope individual assistance will be provided to Callaway residents and businesses.

"No matter what happens, I think we're going to get something done," Baumgartner said following his recent conversations with Parson and Lt. Gov. Mike Kehoe.

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