President Bush on Monday declared tornado-battered Sedg-wick and Butler counties in Kansas a major disaster area, triggering federal aid to rebuild homes and businesses and to help families.
Bush announced the action at a news conference with farm broadcast reporters, saying, "Our hearts really go out to the victims."In Topeka, Gov. Joan Finney on Monday called on the Kansas Legislature to appropriate $643,125 to match the $1.929 million of federal aid approved by Bush. The state must provide a 25 percent match to qualify for the federal disaster aid.
Included in the requested amount is money to bolster a dwindling state emergency fund, and Finney asked for an additional $25,000 to cover the cost of deploying the Kansas National Guard to the devastated areas.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency will establish at least one disaster application center in the next few days in Sedgwick County or Butler County, said Carl Suchocki, agency spokesman.
Bush's declaration makes federal funding available to provide temporary housing for up to 18 months and grants and low-inerest loans to cover losses from uninsured property damage. The grants can be used for such expenses as transportation, medical costs, home repair or other immediate needs, Su-chocki said.
Although just Butler and Sedgwick counties, the two hardest hit by the storms, were designated as disaster areas, other counties might be added after later.