February 4th, 2007 08:26 EST
President Declares Major Disaster For Florida
WASHINGTON - The head of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security's Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) today announced that federal disaster aid has been made available for the state of Florida to help people and communities recover from the effects of severe storms and tornadoes during the period of February 1-2, 2007.
FEMA Director David Paulison said the assistance was authorized under a major disaster declaration issued for the state by President Bush. The President's action makes federal funding available to affected individuals in Lake, Seminole, Sumter, and Volusia counties.
The assistance, to be coordinated by FEMA, can include grants to help pay for temporary housing, home repairs and other serious disaster-related expenses. Low-interest loans from the U.S. Small Business Administration also will be available to cover residential and business losses not fully compensated by insurance.
Federal funding also is available to state and eligible local governments and certain private nonprofit organization on a cost-sharing basis in Lake, Seminole, Sumter, and Volusia counties for debris removal and emergency protective measures, including direct Federal assistance. In addition, federal funding is available on a cost-sharing basis for hazard mitigation measures statewide.
Paulison named Jesse Munoz as the Federal Coordinating Officer for federal recovery operations in the affected area. Munoz said that damage surveys are continuing in other areas, and more counties and additional forms of assistance may be designated after the assessments are complete.
The Agency said that residents and business owners who sustained losses in the designated counties can begin applying for assistance tomorrow by registering online at http://www.fema.gov or by calling 1-800-621-FEMA(3362) or 1-800-462-7585 (TTY) for the hearing and speech impaired. The toll-free telephone numbers will operate from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. (local time) seven days a week until further notice.
FEMA manages federal response and recovery efforts following any national incident, initiates mitigation activities and manages the National Flood Insurance Program. FEMA works closely with state and local emergency managers, law enforcement personnel, firefighters and other first responders. FEMA became part of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security on March 1, 2003.