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Nixon won't appeal FEMA's denial of storm assistance for Missouri victims, seeks SBA help

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, March 13, 2012 - Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon announced today that he has formally asked the Small Business Administration for aid in response to recent storms that killed three in southern Missouri.

Nixon did so after confirming Monday that he won’t appeal the decision by the Federal Emergency Management Agency to deny federal help. Nixon said that he feared an appeal would delay action by the SBA or other federal agencies.

Nixon press secretary Scott Holste said Monday evening that the governor hoped that the SBA might step in to assist some businesses and people affected by the late February storms that hit Missouri, Illinois and some neighboring states.

Nixon's staff said that "SBA disaster loans are issued to homeowners, renters, businesses of all sizes, and private, non-profit organizations to repair or replace real estate, personal property, machinery and equipment, inventory and business assets that have been damaged or destroyed."

Said the governor in a statement: “The tornadoes and storms at the end of February caused heavy damage to homes and businesses across several Missouri counties, and that financial impact will be felt for some time. Even as we continue to work at the state level to ensure that communities have the critical resources, assets and personnel to rebuild and recover, I’m seeking this disaster declaration from the SBA to make this financial assistance available to help our citizens and businesses keep moving forward.”

Nixon issued a state of emergency on Feb. 29, a designation that activated the  State Emergency Operations Center. The governor also noted that he "visited several communities in southwest and southeast Missouri on Feb. 29 and March 1, meeting with local residents and state and local emergency response teams."

Illinois also was denied aid by FEMA, but it is appealing the decision. Both of that state’s U.S. senators – Democrat Dick Durbin and Republican Mark Kirk – are seeking to have the state’s ad request re-examined.

In Missouri’s case, a spokesman for U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., said she can’t do anything if Nixon declines to appeal FEMA’s action.

Holste said that Missouri still plans to use the National Guard and state resources. FEMA's denial comes as the state government is facing budget cuts for the current and next fiscal years as a result of the end of federal stimulus aid.

The governor acknowledged in a statement that he was disappointed by FEMA’s decision. Nixon was first informed by the rejection in a telephone call; a written confirmation is forthcoming, Holste said.

Said Nixon in a statement: “A major disaster declaration would have made additional assistance available to Missourians as they recover and move forward from this round of severe weather. I went to southern Missouri and saw the serious property damage to homes and businesses and the places where Missourians lost their lives. While this decision is disappointing, we’ll continue at the state level to provide the critical resources, assets and personnel that are necessary to help these affected communities recover and rebuild.”

Nixon’s  request was aimed at assisting  the following counties: Adair, Barry, Barton, Bollinger, Cape Girardeau, Cedar, Dallas, Daviess, Laclede, Linn, Madison, Phelps, Polk, Pulaski, Scott, Stoddard, Stone and Taney.

Jo Mannies has been covering Missouri politics and government for almost four decades, much of that time as a reporter and columnist at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. She was the first woman to cover St. Louis City Hall, was the newspaper’s second woman sportswriter in its history, and spent four years in the Post-Dispatch Washington Bureau. She joined the St. Louis Beacon in 2009. She has won several local, regional and national awards, and has covered every president since Jimmy Carter. She scared fellow first-graders in the late 1950s when she showed them how close Alaska was to Russia and met Richard M. Nixon when she was in high school. She graduated from Valparaiso University in northwest Indiana, and was the daughter of a high school basketball coach. She is married and has two grown children, both lawyers. She’s a history and movie buff, cultivates a massive flower garden, and bakes banana bread regularly for her colleagues.

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