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story.lead_photo.caption The home in the background, owned by Tracy Johnson, stands next door to a house reduced to rubble during the tornado that hit Jefferson City on Wednesday night, May 22, 2019. She was grateful for this turnout of volunteers Monday, May 27, to help with cleaning up, cutting trees and more. Photo by Julie Smith / News Tribune.

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The process to get federal aid to help Jefferson City and Cole County recover from last week's tornado has begun.

At Tuesday's regular Cole County Commission meeting, commissioners approved a state of emergency declaration and one was later signed by Jefferson City Mayor Carrie Tergin.

Cole County Emergency Management Director Bill Farr said this was the first step in a long process. Farr said members of the Missouri Structural Assessment and Visual Evaluation Coalition were in the city and county the past few days doing estimates of damage to structures. This is a group of volunteer engineers, architects, building inspectors and other trained professionals to assist the Missouri State Emergency Management Agency.

"They found just over 2,000 buildings damaged in the city and around 600 in the county," Farr said. "These will be significant figures because the documents we'll have to do for the federal government will have to show the dollar loss to every building and how much it will cost to repair them. That will go to the Federal Emergency Management Agency, and then FEMA will bring their own people in to do assessments."

If approved, the city and county would get 75 percent reimbursement from the federal government for expenses related to disasters.

"The city and county have worked together tremendously during this time," Farr said. "The volunteer groups that have come in to help clean up have also made a huge difference in getting things cleaned up. We're rolling into the recovery mode and will be in that mode for quite a while."

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