From staff reports
The Meridian Star
Hardy Street reopened Thursday in Hattiesburg.
The roadway, also known as State Route Highway 198, had been closed since Sunday's tornado tore through the area near the University of Southern Mississippi.
The Mississippi Department of Transportation urged motorists to continue to travel with caution in the area as classes at USM reopened to full capacity Thursday.
On Wednesday the U.S. Department of Homeland Security's Federal Emergency Management Agency announced that federal disaster aid had been made available to Mississippi and ordered federal aid to supplement state, tribal, and local recovery efforts in the area affected by severe storms, tornadoes, and flooding that began Sunday and continued.
“Tuesday I requested an Expedited Disaster Declaration from the White House in order to speed recovery to those hit hardest by these tornadoes,” Gov. Phil Bryant announced this week. “I appreciate their quick response, which will ensure we are able to provide critical resources as these residents and communities begin the difficult process of recovery.”
President Barack Obama declared Mississippi a major disaster area, making the federal funding available to affected individuals in Forrest and Lamar counties.
Assistance can include grants for temporary housing and home repairs, low-cost loans to cover uninsured property losses, and other programs to help individuals and business owners recover from the effects of the disaster.
Federal funding is available to state, tribal, and eligible local governments and certain private nonprofit organizations on a cost-sharing basis for emergency work and the repair or replacement of facilities damaged in Forrest and Lamar counties including direct federal assistance, under the Public Assistance program at 75 percent federal funding.
Federal funding is also available on a cost-sharing basis for hazard mitigation measures statewide.
Terry L. Quarles has been named as the Federal Coordinating Officer for federal recovery operations in the affected area. Quarles said damage surveys are continuing in other areas, and more counties and additional forms of assistance may be designated after the assessments are fully completed.
Individuals and business owners who sustained losses in the designated counties can begin applying for assistance by registering online at http://www.DisasterAssistance.gov or by calling 1-800-621-FEMA (3362) or by web enabled mobile device at m.fema.gov.
Disaster assistance applicants, who have a speech disability or hearing loss and use TTY, should call 1-800-462-7585 directly; for those who use 711 or Video Relay Service (VRS), call 1-800-621-3362. The toll-free telephone numbers will operate from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. seven days a week until further notice.