As Florida prepares for the June 1 start of a new hurricane season, there are measurable signs of recovery from last year’s disasters.
Families are moving out of temporary housing. Communities are in the process of making permanent repairs to damaged public facilities. Vital recreational facilities are reopening for residents and visitors to the Sunshine State.
More than $4 billion in federal disaster assistance has gone directly to Floridians as grants and loans since the first of four hurricanes hit the state of Florida nine months ago, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) reported this week. The federal response to the disasters included an additional $1.2 billion for contracted goods and services needed at the time of the hurricanes.
While 27,000 displaced Floridians still occupy 10,800 FEMA-supplied mobile homes and travel homes placed on private property or in temporary housing sites, the number of temporary homes continues to decline from a peak of more than 16,000.
FEMA’s Individuals and Households Program has paid more than $1.177 billion to Floridians who were eligible for Housing and Other Needs Assistance. More than 1.247 million people applied through FEMA’s registration lines for federal and state assistance after hurricanes Charley, Frances, Ivan and Jeanne devastated the state in August and September.
The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) has approved more than $1.755 billion in low-interest disaster loans for homeowners, renters and business owners in Florida who suffered uninsured or underinsured losses as a result of the disasters.
FEMA’s Public Assistance Program – which provides grants to state and local governments and certain eligible nonprofit organizations for emergency work and permanent repairs to infrastructure – so far has approved more than $1.111 billion.
Under the presidential disaster declarations for Florida’s 2004 hurricanes, FEMA will pay 90 percent of the eligible cost for emergency measures and permanent restoration, while the state and local entities pay the remaining 10 percent.
Federal and state Public Assistance officers continue to work to ensure that all eligible costs for debris removal, emergency protective measures and the repair and replacement of damaged facilities are paid to eligible applicants.
Individuals with questions about their application status or general disaster inquiries may call the FEMA Helpline at 1-800-621-FEMA (3362). Hearing- and speech-impaired applicants can use the TTY number – 1-800-462-7585. Both lines remain open Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time.
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