03/10/2012 01:11 pm ET Updated May 10, 2012

Indiana Tornadoes: Federal Disaster Assistance Available, Obama Says

By Susan Guyett

INDIANAPOLIS, March 10 (Reuters) - President Barack Obama said six southern Indiana counties devastated by severe weather and tornadoes last week were eligible for federal disaster assistance.

Obama was responding on Friday to Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels request for aid after strong storms and tornadoes hit the rural southern part of the state on March 2, killing at least 13 people.

One of the tornadoes, in Jefferson County, was classified as an EF-4, one notch below the strongest rating, and considered an extremely dangerous storm with winds of around 200 miles per hour, the National Weather Service said.

Daniels said in a letter to Obama on March 4 that the storms had taken a heavy toll on the rural communities including homes destroyed or damaged and the displacement of 1,200 Henryville, Indian students.

Earlier in the week, the federal government said seven counties of Kentucky also affected by the same storm system would be eligible for disaster assistance. The National Weather Service said 21 people died in Kentucky and the state says 23 perished using a different measure of storm-related deaths.

Assistance can include grants for temporary housing and home repairs, low-cost loans to cover uninsured property losses and other programs, according to Daniels' office.

Individuals can apply for assistance by registering at www.fema.gov/assistance or by calling 1-800-462-3362. (Reporting By Greg McCune)