As of Thursday, more than 700 local jurisdictions in Missouri have registered to seek federal disaster assistance for the disaster declaration approved for Missouri on March 26 in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, according to the governor's office.

Gov. Mike Parson is requesting damage assessments for 19 Missouri counties. Parson announced he has begun the process to obtain federal disaster assistance for Missouri in response to severe storms and tornadoes that swept across the state on May 3 and May 4.

Parson in his announcement today said last week’s two rounds of severe storms blasted southern Missouri with widespread damaging winds, baseball-size hail and two tornadoes. 

“The result was extensive damage to homes and businesses, widespread damage to electric power delivery systems, and additional emergency response costs to communities that are already strapped by mounting expenditures because of COVID-19. Initial damage reports show a clear need for a formal review by FEMA as part of the federal disaster declaration process,” Parson said. 

Parson has requested FEMA to review damage reports in preparation for a Public Assistance disaster declaration request for Bates, Butler, Carter, Dallas, Douglas, Dunklin, Henry, Hickory, Howell, Laclede, New Madrid, Oregon, Pemiscot, Polk, Ripley, Shannon, Stoddard, Wayne and Wright counties. 

Additional assessments may be requested as damage information is received from more county officials. 

“Due to COVID-19, the normal local-state-federal damage assessment process will have to be modified. Instead of operating jointly in-person, the teams will operate virtually to review images and detailed descriptions of damage to roads, bridges, electrical systems, and other infrastructure, along with estimated repair costs,” according to a release from the governor’s office today.

The local-state-federal damage documentation review process is part of the required FEMA process in preparation for a request from the governor for a federal disaster declaration.

The National Weather Service has confirmed the storms resulted in two tornadoes – an EF-1 tornado in New Madrid County on May 3, and an EF-0 tornado in southwest Carter County on May 4. The governor’s office reported a 71-year-old woman in Bates County was killed when a tree fell into a home near Butler, trapping the woman on May 4, while strong winds in Dunklin County on May 4 derailed 25 rail cars. 

On April 24, Parson extended Missouri’s state of emergency in response to COVID-19 through June 15. With the state of emergency in place, SEMA was currently activated at a Level 3 during the severe weather event.

As of Thursday, more than 700 local jurisdictions in Missouri have registered to seek federal disaster assistance for the disaster declaration President Donald Trump approved for Missouri on March 26 in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, according to the governor’s office.