Programs Deliver Assistance to Fla. Hurricane Victims

May 5, 2005

Federal and state of Florida programs are delivering assistance to citizens and public entities in the state, moving along the recovery from last season’s hurricanes.

Through the Department of Homeland Security’s Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Public Assistance (infrastructure) program, the state of Florida, local government entities and certain non-profits will receive more than $987 million for project and administrative costs to date. These grants supplement costs for debris removal, emergency protective measures, and to repair, restore or rebuild 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, up from the normal 75 percent. The state and local governments will contribute the remaining 10 percent.

In addition to the Public Assistance programs, people in the Sunshine State have received $1.176 billion from FEMA’s Individuals and Households Program. More than $556 million of that has paid for lodging expenses, rental assistance and minimal home repairs. Another $619.5 million has covered assistance for other needs, which include repair or replacement of personal property, funeral expenses, transportation, and medical and dental costs related to the hurricanes.

Another federal partner in disaster recovery, the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), has authorized $1.725 billion in low-interest disaster loans for Florida homeowners, renters and businesses to make repairs and rebuild.

Home repairs and available housing have helped Floridians move back into more permanent dwellings and out of some of the 16,000 mobile homes and travel trailers provided for them temporarily by FEMA and Florida’s State Emergency Response Team (SERT). Approximately 200 travel trailers per week are being returned to FEMA as people go back to their houses and rental units, or find new places to live.

FEMA’s commitment to those still in need of housing remains steadfast as approximately 28,000 Floridians continue to occupy 11,200 mobile homes and travel trailers. These units are placed on residents’ private property, on short-term housing sites or on leased commercial park space.

The need for direct help from FEMA and state counselors and other agencies has reportedly lessened drastically, reducing the number of Disaster Recovery Centers (DRCs) now to three -Charlotte, Escambia and Polk counties.

The DRCs are open Monday-Friday from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. local time. Since last August, DRC officials have assisted more than 588,000 individuals with FEMA and SBA applications, and recovery program services and questions at a total of 150 mobile and fixed-site locations throughout the Sunshine State.

Applicants with questions about their application status or general disaster inquiries also may call the FEMA Helpline at 1-800-621-FEMA (3362), or TTY 1-800-462-7585 for the hearing- and speech-impaired. The lines operate Monday-Friday from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., Eastern Daylight Time.

More than 1.247 million Floridians have applied for federal and state disaster assistance as a result of the 2004 hurricanes.

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