Bush Authorizes Disaster Relief for South Carolina With AM-Hugo, Bjt
WASHINGTON (AP) _ President Bush cleared the way Friday for the distribution of federal disaster relief money for some mainland areas devastated by Hurricane Hugo, approving a request for aid by South Carolina Gov. Carroll Campbell Jr.
The federal assistance, coordinated by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, will included money to help states clear roads, restore power and other essentials as well provide low-interest loans - and in some cases grants - for repairs.
Much of the water damage to residences is covered by federal flood insurance held by many people who live in low coastal areas, although FEMA officals said not all people have such insurance. Wind damage normally is covered by homeowners insurance, they noted.
″South Carolina has a lot of damage, but the infastructure is going to come up pretty quickly,″ Grant Peterson, associate director of FEMA, told a news conference.
Peterson, who has been in touch with state officials affected by the hurricane, praised local authorities for evacuating most people along the shoreline hit by Hugo.
″Their actions have saved literally hundreds of lives,″ he said.
Bush signed the disaster declaration for South Carolina even as the extent of the destruction remained unclear. Similar requests for federal assistance were expected from other states affected.
Peterson said he had not yet received a detailed assessment of damages along the South Carolina coast where Hugo roared ashore, but said it already is clear ″this hurricane is going to be ... expensive.″
As Hugo turned northward Friday after coming ashore in the Charleston, S.C., area, federal relief officials were continuing their efforts to help the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico, which had been pummeled by the storm earlier in the week.
″St. Croix (in the Virgin Islands) is devastated, absolutely devastated,″ said Peterson. He detailed the difficulties relief officials have had in restoring electrical power to the island, saying that 90 percent of the power polls have been toppled and the generating plant ″itself is in jeopardy.″
Bush earlier this week declared both the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico as disaster areas, making them eligible for federal assistance. Peterson said that $14.3 million has been earmarked for St. Croix and St. Thomas and $11 million for Puerto Rico.
As part of the relief activities still under way, according to FEMA officials, military transports on Friday were airlifting to the islands:
-Four 750 killowatt generators for St. Croix to restore electrical power and two mobile air traffic control facilities to the island’s airport so it can be reopened for commercial service.
-More than 8,000 blankets donated by the Red Cross, basic medical supplies, and 600 rolls of plastic sheeting for temporary roofing on damaged buildings.
-A shipment of 100,000 ready-to-eat meals with more expected to be shipped later.
Earlier this week, Bush directed the military to help local officials restore order on St. Croix, where there had been widespread looting.
Peterson, meanwhile, said FEMA’s disaster relief fund is down to about $40 million. But, he said Congress has appropriated $100 million for the fiscal year beginning Oct. 1 and if that’s not enough the agency will go to Capitol Hill and ask for more.