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story.lead_photo.caption Flooding along Highway 94 near Mokane is shown in July. Photo by Quinn Wilson / Fulton Sun.

Callaway County and 13 other counties are now eligible for FEMA aid after the expansion of Missouri's federal major disaster declaration.

FEMA on Monday granted Missouri's request to expand the disaster declaration related to early summer floods. The declaration adds Benton, Boone, Callaway, Clay, Cooper, Dunklin, Gasconade, Howard, Lafayette, Lincoln, Pulaski, Scott, St. Charles and St. Clair counties, along with the city of St. Louis, to the 68 counties already eligible to apply for public aid.

"FEMA's approval of our request means millions of dollars in vitally important federal and state reimbursements will now go to communities in 14 more Missouri counties and the city of St. Louis," Gov. Mike Parson said in a news release. "We appreciate the hard work of our local emergency managers and officials to gather damage information and comply with all the federal requirements. Their residents will now benefit from their efforts."

FEMA's action means more counties are now designated in the April 29 to July 5 disaster for the Public Assistance Program than in any other disaster in Missouri since the Great Flood of 1993.

Local governments may now apply for monetary help in repairing damaged bridges, roads and other public infrastructure, plus emergency response costs associated with the storms and flooding. FEMA will help with up to 75 percent of those costs.

Callaway County officials submitted a request for assistance in early 
September, despite the county not yet being included in the disaster declaration.

Callaway County Emergency Management Director Michelle Kidwell said the threshold in damages for aid is approximately $168,000. In September, Kidwell said the value of the damage to the Katy Trail in Callaway County alone is more than $500,000. Many damaged bridges and roads in the county need repairs, as do the Jefferson City Municipal Airport and a sewer plant in Mokane.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture's Natural Resources Conservation Service Emergency Watershed Protection Program announced Tuesday that local governments in the newly added counties could apply for NRCS assistance.

Through EWP, NRCS provides financial and technical assistance for levee repair, logjam removal, sediment removal from drainage ditches, and stream-bank stabilization near roads, bridges and buildings. An EWP project must have a local sponsor that is a legal subdivision of state government, such as cities, counties, levee districts and drainage districts. Sponsors must submit applications for assistance to NRCS by Oct. 31.

Previously, President Donald Trump granted Parson's request for a major disaster declaration July 9, making 20 counties eligible for the individual assistance program (which helps eligible residents with flood-related expenses). The initial 68 counties were approved for public assistance July 29, and Callaway County was added to the individual assistance list Aug. 5.

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