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Disaster area or not, aid for tornado victims available
More than 200 Hillside Cemetery gravestones damaged
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As bad as the tornadoes that hit Platteville were June 16, they don’t appear to have been bad enough to trigger a federal disaster declaration.

“Although state officials are thoroughly reviewing the reported damages throughout southwestern Wisconsin and discussing the situation with the federal government, it appears very unlikely that FEMA will be able to assist,” said Grant County Emergency Management Director Steve Braun of the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

The U.S. Small Business Administration may, however, make disaster assistance available, Braun said. SBA representatives toured Platteville Wednesday, with a decision to be made this week. Officials with the SBA reported more than 25 homes and businesses sustained significant damage and uninsured losses in excess of 40 percent in Grant County.  Based on that assessment, SBA determined that Grant County had met its criteria to request a declaration.

Gov. Scott Walker sent a formal request to the SBA Wednesday morning to have Grant and contiguous counties — Lafayette, Iowa, Richland and Crawford — declared disaster areas for the June 16 tornadoes, the June 29 tornado near Fennimore and June 29–30 storm damage.

The SBA provides low-interest loans, generally more often to homeowners than businesses. SBA disaster loans can be used to repair or replace real estate, personal property, machinery and equipment, and inventory and business assets for homeowners, renters, businesses and most private nonprofit organizations.

Other aid is available for those who had damage either from the June 16 tornadoes or from last week’s storms, including:

•    Grant County Emergency Management is the primary contact for households with urgent unmet needs, including shelter and temporary housing. Emergency Management is working with such organizations as the American Red Cross and Salvation Army. For assistance, call 723-7171.

•    Funds that were approved but not allocated for last summer’s northern Grant County flooding may be used for this year’s storm damage.

Braun said the Grant County Community Block Development Grant — Emergency Housing Assistance Committee has applied for an amendment to the 2013 grant to use up to $200,000 in remaining funding for assistance for severe weather June 16–30.

Eligible activities include repair of damaged foundations, floors, walls, roof and basic structural components; home mechanicals and electrical, plumbing, and smoke alarms; damaged wells and septic systems; damaged weatherization, siding, steps, and walkways; severely washed out driveways; grading, filling, preventing future damage; and other items to make the home decent, safe, sound, and sanitary. Eligibility is limited to households with 80 percent of the county’s median income, which is from $32,850 for a one-person household to $50,700 for a five-person household.

•    The Platteville Area Long-Term Recovery Committee has been formed, with duties including collection of donations and administering the Platteville Tornado Relief Fund, which was set up by the Platteville Regional Chamber and Building Platteville. A case manager provided by the United Methodist Church Wisconsin Conference is working with families.

•    The U.S. Department of Agriculture provides disaster assistance through the USDA Rural Development Program, including the 502 Direct Loan Program and Guaranteed Rural Housing Program, and the 504 Home Repair Loan and Grant Programs. For more information, call 935-2791 ext. 4.

•    The Tomorrow’s Home Foundation can provide emergency grants to assist with repairs to manufactured homes. For more information, call (608) 255-1088.

•    The Grant County Aging and Disability Resource Center can assist people 60 and older and people with disabilities in disaster recovery tasks. For more information, call 723-6113.

City cleanup: The City of Platteville is applying for state disaster funds that reimburse up to 70 percent of municipal government expenses tied to disasters.

One of those expenses will be repair of damage at the city’s Hillside Cemetery. Director of Public Works Howard Crofoot said more than 200 gravestones were damaged by the EF2 tornado.

There are no reserve funds for cemetery repairs. Crofoot said he expects insurance “will cover a portion of the cost, but that has not been determined yet.”

Crofoot said a volunteer group is providing “manpower to repair the headstones.” He said he expects the repairs will “take much of the summer.”

Fundraisers set: Three fundraisers will be held this week for the Platteville Tornado Relief Fund:

•    Thursday: A brat sale will be held at the Mound City Bank main office on Pine Street from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.

•    Saturday: Benvenuto’s will hold Guest Bartender Night for Tornado Relief, with Nick Pease and Amar Reddy at 6 p.m., Johanna Stecklein and Ryan McCall at 7 p.m., Terry Bush and Shannon VonGlahn at 8 p.m., Annette Carroll and Jolene Nies at 9 p.m., and Sarah Droessler and Frank McGettigan at 10 p.m. A portion of the tips will go to the fund.

Survey says: The National Weather Service is asking those who were impacted by the June 16 tornadoes to fill out an online survey at