President Joe Biden has approved a major disaster declaration for seven Florida counties, including Levy, Dixie and Suwannee, in the wake of Hurricane Idalia.
The declaration allows for 100% reimbursement of debris removal and authorizes individual assistance for those impacted by the storm.
Gov. Ron DeSantis had requested the federal declaration for 25 counties, but his office said damage assessments are ongoing and additional counties may be approved in the coming days.
The initial declaration also includes Citrus, Hamilton, Lafayette and Taylor counties.
“The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is authorized to cover 100 percent of eligible costs for a period of 30 days beginning at the state’s choosing,” a press release from the governor’s office said, noting DeSantis made the request as soon as Idalia made landfall on Wednesday.
The request letter, which is available online, included Alachua, Gilchrist, Columbia, Bradford, Union and Marion counties. It cited a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers estimate that the storm would generate more than 250,000 cubic yards of debris.
According to the governor’s office press release, the Florida Division of Emergency Management (FDEM) deployed hurricane recovery and mitigation experts to conduct rapid damage assessments, which allowed them to submit documentation to FEMA justifying the need for individual assistance.
To apply for recovery funds available for those seven counties, visit www.disasterassistance.gov or call 1-800-621-3362.
In Alachua County, residents and businesses with damage due to Hurricane Idalia should use the online portal to report it to the Alachua County Emergency Management Department.
The Florida Disaster Fund has so far raised $2.5 million to support communities impacted by Hurricane Idalia. To donate, click here.