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Ind. appeals FEMA ruling, expands request for help

– Indiana has submitted an expanded request for federal assistance to help pay the cleanup costs of storm damage in six Indiana counties two weeks after a request to have the hardest-hit county declared a major disaster area was rejected.

Gov. Mike Pence sent a letter to President Barack Obama on Monday urging the Federal Emergency Management Agency to declare Boone, Daviess, Fountain, Grant, Howard and Tippecanoe counties eligible for Individual Assistance Programs. If granted, homeowners and renters in those counties would be eligible to apply for grants and low-interest loans. Businesses would be eligible to apply for low-interest loans.

The National Weather Service confirmed 28 tornadoes touched down in Indiana on Nov. 17 and 48 of Indiana’s 92 counties reported some damages from tornadoes, straight-line winds and severe storms that day, Pence wrote.

According to the appeal, 86 homes in those counties were destroyed, 226 homes sustained major damage and another 263 had minor damage. The most damage was reported in Howard County, about 50 miles north of Indianapolis. It reported 47 destroyed homes and 150 homes with major damage.

He wrote that he declared Howard County in a state of disaster emergency on Dec. 3 and added the other five counties to that list on Monday. After the request for assistance was rejected, representatives from FEMA, the U.S. Small Business Administration, Indiana Department of Homeland Security and county emergency management agencies conducted additional damage assessments last week.