President Obama last week issued a disaster declaration for Franklin and other counties throughout Florida that will help supplement local recovery efforts in the areas affected by Hurricane Hermine between Aug. 31 and Sept. 11.
This federal funding is available to county and city governments and certain private nonprofit organizations on a cost-sharing basis for emergency work and the repair or replacement of facilities damaged by Hermine.
In addition the president's action makes federal funding available to affected individuals in eight counties, although Franklin was not among them. This individual assistance can 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.
Two days after the president issued his disaster declaration on Sept. 26, U.S. Rep. Gwen Graham asked the Federal Emergency Management Agency Administrator W. Craig Fugate, to extend individual assistance aid to Franklin, Taylor and Wakulla counties. As of today, Leon is the only county in the Second Congressional District eligible for individual assistance.
“I’m working to make sure all North Florida families affected by the storm receive the aid they deserve,” Graham said. “While some rural counties are still under federal review, I’m hopeful FEMA will expedite our request to expand aid to Franklin, Taylor and Wakulla.”
Earlier in the day, Graham thanked the president for recognizing the impact Hurricane Hermine had on North Florida.
“Our community rallied together to help each other through the storm and its aftermath – and the federal assistance stemming from this declaration will help us continue to recover,” she said. “I’ve made constituent services a top priority since day one, and my office is prepared to help North Florida families and businesses cut through any red tape to access this new aid.”
Tress Dameron, the county’s emergency management coordinator, reported in an email Monday, that her office had called over 50 residents that reported storm damage due to Hurricane Hermine to advise them to call FEMA directly.
“Please if you had damage, call FEMA at 1-800-621-3362 and make your claim,” wrote Dameron. “You can also go online and fill out an application online at www.disasterassistance.gov.
“We have not been declared for Individual Assistance yet, but they are accepting claims,” she wrote. “Be aware this does not guarantee Individual Assistance will be given, however this allow FEMA to record the demographics and needs of the citizens of Franklin County. If the number is great enough it may allow Franklin to be added on the current Declaration for Individual Assistance.”
In a news release from FEMA, it noted that Terry L. Quarles is the coordinating officer for federal recovery operations in the affected area.
FEMA said that damage surveys are continuing in other areas, and additional counties may be designated for assistance after the assessments are fully completed.