Gov. Nixon comments on federal disaster declaration

Here is the release from Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon’s office after President Obama declared the state a federal disaster area Saturday:

Gov. Jay Nixon tonight announced President Barack Obama has approved the Governor’s request for a federal emergency declaration to speed debris removal and relieve the strain of response and recovery costs in the St. Louis region. Gov. Nixon signed the request this morning after the St. Louis region was inundated by record flooding, including along the Meramec and Bourbeuse rivers, which damaged homes, businesses and public infrastructure.

"The fast-rising flood water inundated several thousand homes and businesses and left behind a trail of destruction, debris and refuse that will have to be cleaned up quickly so that rebuilding can begin and the region can recover," Gov. Nixon said. "I appreciate the debris removal assistance the federal government has agreed to provide, and the speed with which the president responded to our request. Federal assistance with debris removal can help ensure the region moves forward from this historic disaster."

At the state level, the Missouri National Guard will manage the program and coordinate with the federal and local governments. The Governor said the Missouri National Guard is experienced in such a program, since it led the state’s effort in the expedited debris removal program that assisted the recovery of the Joplin area after the 2011 EF-5 tornado there.  At the federal level, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will be requested to facilitate the collection and disposal of both debris left behind by flood water and household debris, including construction materials, carpeting, furniture, appliances, etc.

Gov. Nixon met with elected officials and law enforcement and emergency management leaders in Eureka today to brief them on his request for federal assistance. Before arriving, Gov. Nixon and key members of his emergency response team – Department of Public Safety Director Lane Roberts, Missouri National Guard Major Gen. Stephen Danner and Missouri State Highway Patrol Colonel Bret Johnson – conducted an aerial inspection of flooding conditions and the aftermath of the high water in the St. Louis region.

This morning, Gov. Nixon was in southeast Missouri to inspect conditions there and meet with elected officials and emergency managers and response leaders in Cape Girardeau. In Cape Girardeau, the Mississippi River today surpassed its previous record flood level.

Gov. Nixon said Missouri Guardsmen will continue to provide vital support to local law enforcement and the Missouri State Highway Patrol, since he activated the Guard on Dec. 29.

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