WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Federal resources and funds were made available today to support hurricane response efforts in Florida under an emergency declaration issued by President Clinton, according to the head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).
FEMA Director James Lee Witt said the President took the action this evening following a review of the agency's analysis of the state's expedited request for emergency assistance because of Hurricane Irene, which began affecting Florida's southwest coast yesterday.
Witt said the emergency declaration authorizes the agency to provide federal personnel, equipment, supplies and other materials as required to meet immediate human needs, protect property and insure public health and safety.
Additionally, federal funding will be available to pay 75 percent of the eligible costs for emergency work undertaken by the federal government at the request of the state and affected local governments in the following counties: Brevard, Broward, Charlotte, Collier, Dade, DeSoto, Glades, Hardee, Hendry, Highlands, Hillsborough, Indian River, Lake, Lee, Manatee, Martin, Monroe, Okeechobee, Orange, Osceola, Palm Beach, Pasco, Pinellas, Polk, St. Lucie, Sarasota, Seminole and Volusia.
Eligible work undertaken by the federal government can include debris removal; search and rescue operations; temporary facilities for schools and other community services; demolition of unsafe structures; transportation of emergency workers, equipment and supplies; and other assistance to help alleviate immediate threats to life and property.
Witt, who designated the counties eligible for the emergency aid following the declaration, indicated that the need for additional forms of federal assistance will be determined as soon as damage assessments can be completed in the affected areas. He named David Rodham of FEMA to serve as the federal coordinating officer for the response effort.