Federal and state disaster assistance agencies in Florida are reportedly gaining ground with recovery efforts in the Sunshine State six months after Hurricane Jeanne – the last of the 2004 hurricanes – made landfall Sept. 25, 2004.
The unprecedented four hurricanes striking Florida within one hurricane season resulted in all 67 Florida counties being declared disaster areas by President Bush.
The overall impact was widespread and costly; all four hurricanes – Charley, Frances, Ivan and Jeanne – have been added to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security/Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) Top 10 Natural Disasters list. Nationwide, 17 states and territories were affected by one or more of the storms.
To date, federal aid to Florida as a result of the four 2004 hurricanes has surpassed $4.7 billion, with more than 1.24 million victims applying for federal and state assistance. So far, Floridians have received $1.163 billion in individual disaster aid including housing, personal property and other expenses, crisis counseling and legal services.
Coming to the immediate aid of hurricane victims, FEMA provided nearly $1.17 billion for emergency response such as dispersing ice, water, ready-to-eat meals and disaster medical assistance.
The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) has approved $1.563 billion for almost 50,500 applicants to repair their damaged homes and businesses with low-interest loans.
FEMA has obligated $818 million in public assistance funds to help local governments and certain private, nonprofit entities repair and rebuild infrastructure and buildings, and clear more than 53 million cubic yards of debris.
FEMA contract inspectors examined and completed nearly 881,000 housing inspections. Recognizing a shortage of safe, available housing, FEMA, in conjunction with the State Emergency Response Team (SERT), also brought in more than 15,750 manufactured units to house displaced residents.
FEMA/State of Florida Disaster Recovery Centers (DRCs) served more than 577,000 individuals. During the height of relief efforts, FEMA and the State operated 73 fixed-site DRCs and 76 mobile DRC locations throughout Florida. As the recovery continues and the number of daily visitors decreases, the centers close.
According to insurance experts, Hurricane Jeanne is the sixth costliest hurricane in U.S. history. Making landfall directly where Hurricane Frances did, the Category 3 storm impacted the state with hurricane and tropical force winds that covered much of the Florida peninsula.
A breakdown of the amounts and types of disaster assistance provided to Floridians because of Hurricane Jeanne is as follows:
* More than 363,500 individuals registered for state and federal assistance;
* Nearly $391.8 million approved in federal and state disaster assistance grants. Of that amount, $195.9 million paid for lodging expenses, rental assistance and minimal home repairs. Another $195.9 million covered other needs, including such items as repair or replacement of personal property, funeral expenses, and medical and dental costs related to the storm;
* The SBA has approved more than $257.5 million in low-interest loans for 11,000 applicants;
* More than $1.3 million disbursed in Disaster Unemployment Assistance;
* To date, $104.7 million in public assistance funds has been obligated for 792 requests for aid from local governments and private, nonprofit entities;
* More than 264,000 housing inspections have been completed for this disaster;
* More than 225,800 tarps were distributed to individuals, and volunteers and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers covered nearly 53,600 roofs with plastic sheeting (figures combine Frances and Jeanne stats);
* To date, 6,096 National Flood Insurance Program claims have been received;
* More than $301 million paid for emergency response and protective measures;
* 162 shelters were set up to accommodate 46,252 individuals;
Volunteers distributed more than 2.69 million meals;
* Disaster Medical Assistance Teams treated 961 patients.
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