The head of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) announced today that President Bush has ordered the release of all necessary federal disaster aid resources for Florida pummeled for the third time by a hurricane in little over a month.
Michael Brown, Under Secretary of Homeland Security for Emergency Preparedness and Response, said the President took the action under a major disaster declaration issued in response to Hurricane Ivan that struck the Florida Panhandle Thursday morning. The declaration covers damage to private property from the storm that began affecting the state on Sept. 13. It follows the major disasters declared for the state on Aug. 13 for Tropical Storm Bonnie and Hurricane Charley and Sept. 4 for Hurricane Frances.
“President Bush has seen first-hand the incredible losses that Floridians already have sustained and knows how much more they are enduring from this destructive storm,” Brown said. “He has directed the federal government to continue helping those affected by these hurricanes rebuild their lives.”
In addition to the delivery of emergency lifesaving systems and other materials and supplies for meeting basic human needs, Brown said the declaration makes federal funds available for the long-term recovery of hurricane-stricken residents and business owners in the counties of Bay, Calhoun, Escambia, Franklin, Gadsden, Gulf, Holmes, Jackson, Leon, Liberty, Santa Rosa, Taylor, Wakulla, Walton and Washington.
The assistance, to be coordinated by FEMA, can include grants to help pay for temporary housing, 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, Brown said the state and affected local governments in 19 counties are eligible to apply for federal funds to pay 100 percent of the approved costs for debris removal and emergency services related to the storm, including requested emergency work undertaken by the federal government, for a period of up to 72 hours.
The 19 counties designated eligible for the assistance include Bay, Calhoun, Dixie, Escambia, Franklin, Gadsden, Gulf, Holmes, Jackson, Jefferson, Leon, Levy, Liberty, Okaloosa, Santa Rosa, Taylor, Wakulla, Walton and Washington.
Brown said federal funding also will be available to the state on a cost-shared basis for approved projects that reduce future disaster risks. He indicated that aid for residents in other counties and additional forms of assistance for state and local government agencies may be designated later as conditions allow damage to be assessed in the stricken area.
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