On Aug. 16, 2004, the first of many Disaster Recovery Centers (DRCs) to open across Florida began helping victims in Port Charlotte, three days after Hurricane Charley struck the area. Sometime during the day on Jan. 12, 2005 – five months later – applicant number 500,000 visited a DRC, and by Wednesday there has been an overall total of 510,678 visitors.
DRC personnel continue to help applicants 10 hours a day, 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., Monday through Saturday at the present 39 active sites. Among the active sites six have assisted more than 20,000 applicants each.
Assistance approved for Floridians who suffered damages from the four hurricanes that struck Florida in 2004 now totals nearly $3.74 billion. To date, nearly 1.22 million storm victims have applied for federal and state assistance.
A breakdown of the amounts and types of assistance are:
* A total of $1.09 billion in federal and state disaster assistance grants has been approved for Florida residents in all 67 counties. Of that amount, $513.31 million has been approved to pay for lodging expenses, rental assistance and minimal home repairs. The balance of $576.83 million covers other needs, which may include such items as repair or replacement of personal property, funeral expenses, and medical and dental costs related to the storm.
* A total of $1.16 billion has been obligated for emergency response and protective measures. These measures include such items as providing food, water and ice, temporary roofs and other emergency services.
* The U.S. Small Business Administration has approved nearly $1.15 billion in low-interest loans to repair storm-damaged homes and businesses. Assistance to businesses includes economic injury loans that provide working capital to assist businesses in getting back on their feet following a storm.
* Public Assistance (infrastructure) funds are flowing to local governments and certain private, non-profit entities. Currently, $339.18 million has been approved for project requests found eligible for grant assistance. To date, more than 2,600 requests for aid have been filed.
* FEMA housing inspectors have visited more than 835,899 properties to verify damage losses.
* There are now more than 14,522 manufactured housing units – mobile homes and travel homes – occupied by storm victims.
National Flood Insurance Program claims now number 26,956.
* Some 510,678 applicants have been to one of the 92 mobile and fixed site Disaster Recovery Centers (DRCs) that first began operations on August 16 to provide follow-up services and information to applicants for disaster assistance. Presently, 39 DRCs continue to assist applicants throughout the state.
* More than $11.3 million have been disbursed in Disaster Unemployment Assistance.
* Officials of the Department of Homeland Security’s Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the State Emergency Response Team (SERT) urge all homeowners, renters and business owners who sustained damage from one or more of the four hurricanes to apply for federal and state disaster assistance. Floridians have until Feb. 28, 2005 to apply for assistance.
The number to call to register is 1-800-621-FEMA (3362). The hearing-and speech-impaired should call TTY 1-800-462-7585. Both numbers now operate seven days a week from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily, EST.
Applicants may also register for assistance online. Those with access to a computer can enter the FEMA Web site at http://www.fema.gov. Look for and click on the words “Register for Disaster Assistance Online” located in the right-hand area in the green box.
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