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Jobs program helps with the cleanup from flooding

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

(Photo)
Pictured from left, Missouri Disaster Recovery Jobs Program participants Gary Lutes of rural Morehouse, Ignatius "Mike" Hunt of Sikeston and William Brais of Bloomfield work to remove debris from a ditch in the northeast corner of Morehouse Monday. Scott Welton, Staff
SIKESTON -- The Missouri Disaster Recovery Jobs Program is a working program.

Thanks to the program, local counties and municipalities are able to get the additional labor they need to clean up the mess left by the spring's flooding while workers displaced by the flood disaster and the long-term unemployed are able to earn a check again.

Fully funded by a National Emergency Grant through the Workforce Investment Act from the U.S. Department of Labor and the Missouri Division of Workforce Development, the program takes care of all compensation for participating workers for up to 1,040 hours each.

Norman Brant, highway superintendent for Scott County, said his department was able to get seven workers through the program.

"We started out with about four and as time went on more applicants came through," he said.

Brant said his department usually consists of only 10 workers including himself.

"It almost doubled our productivity," he said of the extra labor. "It's helped tremendously."

"I've got 14 right now," said Pete Leija, mayor of Morehouse. "We've scaled back -- I did have 28."

Targeted projects for the program include debris removal, humanitarian assistance and the restoration of public areas and must be related to damages in the official disaster declaration -- which is exactly what Morehouse needed.

"They're cleaning out ditches and still removing debris. It's been working out great," Leija said. "It looks like I'm going to just about hit on target as their time comes to an end: I'm going to have everything done I set out to get done and possibly a little more."

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