Fla. Disaster Aid Approaches $5 Billion

April 14, 2005

Nearly $5 billion in federal assistance has been approved for Floridians to help recover from damages suffered from the 2004 hurricanes.

More than 1.247 million storm victims have applied for federal and state aid, and federal officials continue to review grant requests to reimburse local agencies for recovery projects under way.

Through the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), a total of $1.172 billion has been approved in Individuals and Households Program assistance funds. Of that amount, $554 million covers grants to pay for lodging expenses, rental assistance and minimal home repairs. Another $618 million covers assistance for other needs, which include repair or replacement of personal property, funeral expenses, and medical and dental costs related to the hurricanes.

FEMA’s Public Assistance (infrastructure) program, to date, has obligated more than $932 million in supplemental federal disaster grants for projects undertaken by local governments and certain private non-profit entities to make repairs, and restore and rebuild publicly owned facilities in counties the President declared a disaster. For the 2004 hurricanes, the federal government is reimbursing 90 percent of the eligible cost for emergency measures and permanent restoration. State and local governments pay the remaining 10 percent.

The U.S. Small Business Administration has authorized nearly $1.65 billion in low-interest disaster loans for homeowners, renters and businesses.

Displaced hurricane victims currently occupy more than 12,000 manufactured housing units – mobile homes and travel homes – on private property or in FEMA-created or leased short-term housing sites. Since the onset of the disasters, FEMA and the state of Florida have provided more than 15,900 units for individuals with no other housing alternative.

Some 583,900 disaster applicants have visited one of the 92 mobile and fixed-site Disaster Recovery Centers (DRCs) that were set up to assist victims with application and federal disaster aid program questions. Presently, nine fixed DRCs continue to assist applicants throughout the state.

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