TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – President Joe Biden on Thursday declared a major disaster exists in Florida due to damage from what is now Tropical Storm Ian, approving a request made by Gov. DeSantis the day prior.
DeSantis had asked that the president authorize “100% federal cost share for debris removal and emergency protective measures (FEMA Categories A and B) for the first 60 days from landfall,” a news release from the governor’s office states.
Biden has ordered federal aid to supplement state, tribal and local recovery efforts in storm-affected areas, according to the declaration, with the following stipulations:
- Federal funding available to affected affected individuals in Charlotte, Collier, DeSoto, Hardee, Hillsborough, Lee, Manatee, Pinellas, and Sarasota counties.
- Federal funding available to state, tribal and eligible local governments and certain nonprofit organizations on cost-sharing basis for debris removal in Charlotte, Collier, DeSoto, Hardee, Hillsborough, Lee, Manatee, Pinellas, and Sarasota counties, as well as emergency protective measures statewide, for a period of 30 days from the start of the incident period, authorized at 100% of total eligible costs.
- Assistance to include grants for temporary housing and home repairs, low-cost loans to cover uninsured property losses and other programs to “help individuals and business owners recover from the effects of the disaster.”
- Federal funding available on cost-sharing basis for hazard mitigation measures statewide.
In a follow-up statement from the White House, it was described Biden had spoken to DeSantis over the phone, telling him his FEMA administrator would be sent to Florida on Friday to check on response efforts and determine where additional support is needed.
Biden held a news conference Thursday afternoon at FEMA Headquarters in Washington, D.C., detailing the disaster declaration.
“I approved the governor’s request for an expedited major disaster declaration. That means the federal government will cover 100% of costs to clear debris and costs the state needs to save lives,” Biden said. “People who have destroyed or damaged homes and don’t have insurance, the federal government will provide individual assistance of $37,900 for home repairs, and another $37,900 for lost property.”
The president said over 1,000 FEMA personnel had been dispatched to Florida, adding he would eventually be on the way, too.
“When the conditions allow, I’m going to Florida to thank them personally, so we don’t get in the way,” Biden said, adding he would be activating the Department of Homeland Security’s Surge Capacity Force on Thursday to have additional personnel in Florida to assist.
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