Biden approves disaster assistance to Florida

President Joe Biden with American flag in background

President Joe Biden approved Gov. Ron DeSantis’s request for a major disaster declaration on Thursday morning.

The declaration authorizes The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to provide individual assistance for survivors in Charlotte, Collier, DeSoto, Hardee, Hillsborough, Lee, Manatee, Pinellas and Sarasota counties.

In addition, all 67 Florida counties and the Miccosukee Tribe of Indians of Florida and the Seminole Tribe of Florida are eligible for emergency protective measures. The assistance will also provide 100% federal funding for debris removal and emergency life-saving measures for 30 days in those counties.

FEMA assistance can include grants for temporary housing and home repairs, low-interest loans to cover uninsured property losses and other programs to help individuals and business owners recover from the effects of the disaster.

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Residents and business owners in the designated areas can apply for disaster assistance at DisasterAssistance.gov, by calling 800-621-3362, or by using the FEMA mobile app.

FEMA offered the following safety considerations for residents:

  • Stay off the roads. Emergency workers may be assisting people in flooded areas or cleaning up debris. You can help them by staying off the roads and out of the way. If you evacuated do not return home until local officials tell you the area is safe.
  • Prepare for power outages. Residents in Georgia and South Carolina should plan now for potential power outages. Plan for batteries and other alternative power sources to meet your needs when the power goes out. Use a generator safely. Keep it outside and away from doors, windows or vents.   
  • Avoid downed power or utility lines. They may be live with deadly voltage. Stay away and report them immediately to your power or utility company.
  • Stay out of floodwater. Standing water may be electrically charged from underground or downed power lines or contain hazards such as human and livestock waste, contaminates that can lead to illness, sharp debris or wild or stray animals. Do not walk, swim or drive through flood waters.

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