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Office of the Vice President

For Immediate Release June 3, 1998
                       VICE PRESIDENT GORE TOURS 
                      SPENCER, S.D. DISASTER AREA 

            Announces Strong Federal Commitment to Recovery

Washington, DC -- After touring tornado-ravaged Spencer, S.D. today, Vice President Gore announced a strong multi-agency effort by the Federal Government to help the affected regions recover as quickly as possible.

"I was deeply saddened by the many homes and businesses that were utterly leveled as a result of Saturday's storm," Vice President Gore said. "I can assure the families of South Dakota that they will be in my thoughts and prayers in these coming days."

Federal agencies are providing assistance to affected individuals in McCook county and surrounding local governments.

The Social Security Administration is coordinating with local banks and post offices to ensure that Title II and SSI beneficiaries receive their benefits without delay.

The Small Business Administration (SBA) has sent five of its employees to Spencer to help residents fill out loan applications for long-term low-interest loans. Residents who have the ability to repay may receive loans to repair or replace uninsured or underinsured damaged property, up to $200,000 for homes, $40,000 for personal property, and $1.5 million for businesses. Applicants without credit may receive an interest rate of 3.5% for homeowners and 4% for business.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency has made available grants to help pay for temporary housing, minor home repairs and other serious disaster-related expenses. FEMA funds are also being provided to local governments to help cover the costs of debris removal and emergency services related to the disaster.

The Department of Labor has approved nearly $500,000 in emergency funding to create temporary clean-up and restoration jobs. Workers who lost their jobs because of the disaster, as well as the long-term unemployed and other eligible dislocated workers, can participate in the program.

Federal funding also is available to eligible local governments on a cost sharing basis for the repair or replacement of public facilities damaged by the severe storm. Federal funding is also available on a cost share basis for hazard mitigation measures.

Local residents and business owners who sustained losses in the designated counties can apply for assistance by calling 1-800-462-9029, or 1-800-462-7585 (TTY) for the hearing and speech impaired. The toll-free telephone numbers will operate from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. seven days a week until further notice.