TALLAHASSEE — President Biden on Thursday declared much of Florida a major disaster area following Hurricane Ian’s destructive rampage across the state.
The statement means residents of counties affected by the monstrous storm can apply for financial assistance online through DisasterAssistance.gov, by phone, or in person at soon-to-be-established federal treatment centers in Florida.
Biden’s statement gives the Federal Emergency Management Agency authority to directly help individuals pay for temporary housing and home repairs, offer low-interest loans to cover property losses uninsured and fund other federal programs to help individuals and business owners recover from one of the largest in the state. never storms.
The statement also provides 100% federal funding for debris removal and life-saving emergency measures for 30 days in those counties, according to FEMA’s latest statement.
The counties declared disaster areas: Charlotte, Collier, DeSoto, Hardee, Hillsborough, Lee, Manatee, Pinellas and Sarasota.
The White House said it was assessing damage elsewhere in the state and may add other counties.
Governor Ron DeSantis said he was talking with Biden on Thursday morning, thanking him for the statement but telling him more counties should be added.
“We expect more,” DeSantis said.
The White House “ready to help”
White House spokeswoman Karine Jean-Pierre told reporters on Wednesday that the Biden administration “stands ready to help the people of Florida in any way we can.”
“And, when the storm passes, we’ll be there to help Florida rebuild and recover,” she said. “We are committed to going all the way.
Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., said Floridians will be eligible for financial assistance through FEMA or the Small Business Administration. FEMA Distributes Immediate Financial Assistance to Applicants; loans are processed and approved by the SBA.
“I spoke to the director of FEMA [and] they streamlined their process as hurricane season approached to make it easier for people to get in,” Rubio told CNN’s Jake Tapper on Wednesday.
“There are going to be people without a home [and] without access to money and food for a long period of time,” he said. “We want them to know that we will be there to help make those resources available once the storm has passed and conditions are safe.”
How to Apply for FEMA Disaster Assistance
Before the application process even begins online or in person, eligible Floridians will need to gather important documents and information to share with FEMA officials. Here is the “Checklist for Disaster Survivors”:
Social Security number. FEMA requires that the applicant, another adult member, or a minor child in a household have a Social Security number. Other requirements: At least one member of the household must be a US citizen or legal resident of the United States.
Insurance information. FEMA requires the applicant’s current insurance coverage. This could include coverage under policies such as home insurance, flood insurance, automobile or mobile home.
Damage information. FEMA requires a description of the damage caused by the disaster to your property, which includes a condo, mobile home or house, or car or truck.
Financial information. FEMA requires the applicant to provide their total annual household income, before taxes, at the time of the disaster.
Contact information. FEMA requires the address and phone number of the property where the damage occurred and the address and phone number where the claimant can be reached immediately.
Direct deposit information. If approved, FEMA can deposit your funds directly into your bank account. This is optional, but FEMA would require the following banking information: bank name, account type (checking or savings), bank routing number, and applicant’s bank account number.
FEMA offers telephone help with any application. The toll-free number: 1-800-621-3362.
FEMA also publishes a wealth of information online, including a helpful “Frequently Asked Questions” page at https://www.disasterassistance.gov/help/faqs#before-you-apply-3
Disaster relief applicants should also keep on hand a set of notes to track their application, passwords and application registration numbers, or other vital information to track their FEMA applications.
USA Today Network-Florida government accountability reporter Douglas Soule is based in Tallahassee, Florida. He can be contacted at DSoule@gannett.com. Twitter: @DouglasSoule
Sergio Bustos is Business/Political Editor for Gannett/USA Today Network in Florida. He is based in South Florida. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
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