WASHINGTON, D.C. -- The head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) announced late Friday, November 6 that federal disaster aid had been approved for Florida to help families and communities in Monroe County recover from the effects of Tropical Storm Mitch.
FEMA Director James Lee Witt said President Clinton authorized the assistance under a major disaster declaration issued this evening in response to the state's request for federal relief submitted earlier Friday. The declaration covers damage to private and public property from Mitch, which whipped the southern end of the state November 4-5 with severe thunderstorms, flooding rains, tornadoes and sustained winds of 50 miles per hour.
Immediately after the President's action, Witt designated Monroe County eligible for federal funding to supplement the recovery needs of stricken residents and business owners.
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 funding will be provided for the state and affected local governments in Monroe County to pay 75 percent of the eligible costs for debris removal, emergency services related to the storm, and repairing or replacing damaged public facilities. The declaration also makes cost-shared funding available to the state for approved projects that reduce future disaster risks.
Witt indicated that damage surveys are continuing and more counties may be designated for aid later based on the results of the assessments. He named Paul Fay, of FEMA's regional office in Atlanta, Ga., to coordinate the federal relief effort.
Fay said residents and business owners who sustained losses in Monroe County 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 are available from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. (ET) seven days a week until further notice.