FEMA Expands Public Assistance for So. Fla. Counties Affected by Katrina

Federal disaster assistance for public infrastructure damaged by Hurricane Katrina has been expanded in south Florida to include Monroe County, the Department of Homeland Security’s Federal Emergency Management Agency announced Thursday.

In addition, “Public Assistance” aid was expanded for all three counties – Miami-Dade, Broward and Monroe – to include additional categories. FEMA aid will now include funds to repair or replace damaged roads and bridges, water control facilities, public buildings and their contents, publicly-owned utilities, and parks and recreation areas. The counties are also eligible, as was announced earlier for Miami-Dade and Broward, for funding for emergency services and debris removal costs related to the storm.

“FEMA continues to support local response and recovery efforts through Public Assistance, and appreciates state and local collaboration in assessing Floridians’ needs,” said Scott Morris, director of FEMA’s Long Term Recovery Office in Florida. “The good news is that the uninsured damage caused by Katrina in Florida is not more than state, local and volunteer resources will be able to address. And for that, we are all grateful.”

Following the Katrina’s first landfall along Florida’s southeast coast, FEMA, State Emergency Response Team (SERT) and local officials sent out 20 teams to assess damage to homes and businesses in Miami-Dade, Broward and Monroe counties. The teams looked at damage, as well as how much of the damage will be covered by insurance or other assistance.

The teams visited areas identified by local officials and jointly determined that the sporadic uninsured damage in the three counties does not rise above what local, state, volunteer, and other federal resources could address. Therefore, “Individual Assistance” is not warranted.

The “Public Assistance” program allows FEMA to supplement state and local funds to assist government agencies and certain non-profit organizations in these counties. FEMA pays 75 percent of the cost of projects and the state and/or applying agency is responsible for the remaining 25 percent. This aid is in addition to the water, ice, and Meals Ready to Eat supplied by FEMA and distributed in Homestead and Miami by the State Emergency Response Team (SERT) and local officials.

People with damage from the hurricane who do not have insurance may be able to get assistance from the Small Business Administration and other federal agencies, volunteer agencies, faith-based organizations or organizations such as the Florida Hurricane Relief Fund. Moreover, the Public Assistance announced today frees up resources that would have been necessary for infrastructure repairs to aid individuals affected by the storm.