WASHINGTON, D.C. -- The head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) announced today that federal disaster funds have been made available for Florida to help families and businesses recover from the effects of Hurricane Irene.
FEMA Director James Lee Witt said President Clinton authorized the assistance under a major disaster declaration issued for the state this afternoon. The declaration covers damage to private property from Irene that began impacting the state on October 14.
The action follows the President's emergency declaration of October 15 that released federal resources to help meet immediate critical needs and funding for state and local governments for debris removal and emergency services, including requested emergency work undertaken by the federal government.
Under today's declaration, Witt said affected residents and business owners are eligible to apply for federal assistance in the counties of Brevard, Broward, Collier, Glades, Hendry, Highlands, Indian River, Martin, Miami-Dade, Monroe, Okeechobee, Orange, Osceola, Palm Beach, Polk, St. Lucie, Seminole and Volusia.
The assistance, to be coordinated by FEMA, can include grants to help pay for temporary housing, minor home repairs and other serious disaster-related expenses. Low-interest loans from the U.S. Small Business Administration also will be available to cover residential and business losses not fully compensated by insurance.
Additionally, Witt said federal funds will be available to the state on a cost-shared basis for approved projects that reduce future disaster risks. He indicated that more counties and additional forms of aid for state and local government agencies may be designated later if requested and warranted by the results of further damage assessments.
David Rodham, FEMA's federal coordinating officer for Florida relief operations, said residents and business owners who sustained losses in the designated counties can begin the disaster application process on Thursday, October 21, by calling 1-800-462-9029, or 1-800-462-7585 (TTY) for the hearing and speech impaired. The toll-free telephone numbers will operate from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. seven days a week until further notice.