Washington, DC -- The head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) announced today that President Bush has ordered federal disaster aid to help people and communities in northwestern Florida recover from the effects of Tropical Storm Allison.
FEMA Director Joe M. Allbaugh said the President authorized the assistance under a major disaster declaration issued following a review of the agency's analysis of the state's request for federal relief. The declaration covers damage to private and public property from the storm that occurred over the period of June 11-15.
After the President's action, Allbaugh designated the counties of Gadsden, Jefferson, Leon, Liberty and Wakulla eligible for federal aid to stricken residents and business owners.
The assistance, to be coordinated by FEMA, can include grants to help pay for temporary housing, emergency 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.
Allbaugh said federal funds also will be provided for the state and affected local governments to pay 75 percent of the eligible cost for repairing or replacing damaged public facilities in the counties of Bay, Calhoun, Gadsden, Holmes, Leon and Liberty. The declaration also makes cost-shared funding available to the state for approved projects that reduce future disaster risks.
Allbaugh indicated that additional counties may be designated for aid later if requested and warranted by the results of further damage assessments. He named Charles M. Butler of FEMA to coordinate the federal relief effort.
Butler said those in the counties designated for aid to affected residents and business owners can begin the disaster application process by calling 1-800-462-9029, or 1-800-462-7585 (TTY)for the hearing and speech impaired. The toll-free telephone numbers will be available starting Monday, June 18, from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. seven days a week until further notice.