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ST. CLAIR COUNTY -- St. Clair is one of 22 Alabama counties that have been affected by natural disasters and are now eligible for federal assistance, according to a press release. 

U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Rural Housing Service Administrator Bruce Lammers announced that USDA is making $150 million in grants available through the Community Facilities Program to help rural communities continue their recovery from the devastating effects of hurricanes, fires and other natural disasters. 

Alabama State Director Chris Beeker III announced that 22 counties in Alabama are eligible for this assistance.

“The devastation rural Alabama and rural America has faced in the recent natural disasters is heartbreaking,” Beeker said, in the release. “These funds will help our rural communities in the recovery process."

The $150 million is included in the Additional Supplemental Appropriations for Disaster Relief Act that President Trump signed into law June 6. 

The grants may be used for relief in areas affected by Hurricanes Michael and Florence; wildfires in 2018; and other natural disasters where the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has provided a notice declaring a Major Disaster Declaration and assigned a FEMA disaster recovery (DR) number. 

Other Alabama counties affected along with St. Clair include Blount, Calhoun, Cherokee, Colbert, Cullman, Dale, DeKalb, Etowah, Franklin, Geneva, Greene, Henry, Houston, Jackson, Lamar, Lee, Madison, Marion, Mobile, Morgan and Winston. 

Grant applications will be accepted at USDA state offices on a continual basis until funds are exhausted. Grant assistance will be provided on a graduated scale; smaller communities with the lowest median household income are eligible for a higher proportion of grant funds. 

For application details and additional information, see page 47477 of the Sept. 10 Federal Register.

More than 100 types of projects are eligible for Community Facilities funding. Eligible applicants include municipalities, public bodies, nonprofit organizations and federally recognized Native American tribes. Projects must be in eligible rural areas with a population of 20,000 or less. 

USDA Rural Development provides loans and grants to help expand economic opportunities and create jobs in rural areas.

This assistance supports infrastructure improvements; business development; housing; community facilities such as schools, public safety and health care; and high-speed Internet access in rural areas. 

For more information, visit www.rd.usda.gov.

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