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FEDS PICK UP GREATER SHARE OF DISASTER RELIEF

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President Bill Clinton pledged the federal government Friday to picking up an increased share of disaster assistance for damage caused by Hurricane Georges in 1998.
Clinton’s decision will increase Federal Emergency Management Agency assistance from 75 percent to 90 percent. The higher federal share means the V.I. government is off the hook for ponying up more than $1.5 million in local matching dollars
Gov. Charles Turnbull said the increased federal share will be applied to the Public Assistance Program for repairing storm-damaged infrastructure and to the Individual and Family Grant Program. Funding will also go toward the FEMA Hazard Mitigation Grant Program.
"The decision will help enormously as we continue to recover from yet another devastating storm," Turnbull said. "It reflects the success of my administration’s efforts to improve our relations with Washington, as well as recognition by the federal government of our efforts to get our fiscal house in order."
Turnbull noted that his administration has also requested an increase in federal cost-sharing following November’s Hurricane Lenny. That request is being reviewed, he said.
In addition to the increased federal cost-sharing percentages, the administration is asking Washington to restructure, or forgive outright, the approximately $200 million owed to FEMA following Hurricanes Hugo in 1989 and Marilyn in 1995.
The federal government already agreed to a one-year forbearance on all FEMA loan payments, which saved the V.I. government nearly $10 million in debt-service payments over the past 12 months.

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