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Counties Get Disaster Designation Declaration Makes Federal Funds Available For Relief

President Clinton on Tuesday approved federal disaster-relief dollars for Eastern Washington counties crushed by November’s ice storm.

Clinton’s disaster declaration for Spokane and Pend Oreille counties makes it possible for local governments to recoup at least part of the $16 million they will spend on cleanup and recovery efforts.

It also makes low-interest loans available to individuals and business owners for uninsured property losses.

“We’re very pleased,” said a relieved Dave Byrnes, Spokane city-county emergency services director. “Everybody was hoping for this.”

“We can use the money,” said Pend Oreille County Commissioner Karl McKenzie.

Clinton also declared disaster areas in Klickitat County, as well as 12 Minnesota counties, because of damage sustained during a string of ice storms between Nov. 19 and Dec. 4.

Byrnes, who learned of the declaration late Tuesday, said he knew few details about how much of Spokane County’s tab would be covered.

Last year, the Federal Emergency Management Agency paid for 75 percent of the damage caused by floods, and the state picked up 12.5 to 25 percent, Byrnes said.

“In some cases, we got 100 percent recovery,” he said.

The lion’s share of Spokane County’s $15 million ice storm bill belongs to the city, which will spend at least $11.1 million on everything from overtime to tree replacement.

The Pend Oreille County Public Utility district estimates the ice storm and heavy snowfall a week later did nearly $900,000 in damage.

Pend Oreille County spent about $40,000 removing debris from county roads.

Without the federal money, local governments would be scrambling to cover their bills, officials said.

, DataTimes The following fields overflowed: BYLINE = Kristina Johnson Staff writer The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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