When the Federal Emergency Management Agency first announced its limited aid to government agencies in just five counties hit by tornadoes a few weeks ago, officials like those in Bollinger County were far from pleased. They believed the storm's destruction warranted federal aid for homeowners, renters and businesses who suffered losses that weren't fully insured or had emergency spending needs to put a roof over their head or to keep their business open.
In addition, the storm damage extended to 19 counties, not just the five counties first identified by FEMA.
Thanks to the intervention of Southeast Missouri's congressional delegation, FEMA expanded its coverage to all 19 counties and to private citizens as well as government agencies.
U.S. Rep. Jo Ann Emerson spoke directly to the FEMA staff.
U.S. Sen. Kit Bond questioned FEMA's early decision during a subcommittee hearing, referring to a Southeast Missourian story about the need for assistance.
And U.S. Sen. Jean Carnahan wrote a letter to the Senate Appropriations Committee requesting emergency federal aid for the area.
Storm victims seeking federal assistance should call FEMA at (800) 621-3362 to start the application process.