USA: Disaster assistance reaches $27.7 million

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More Than 18,700 Floridians Register for Disaster Assistance

ORLANDO, Fla. -- More than $27.79 million in disaster assistance has been approved by state and federal sources to help Floridians recover from Tropical Storm Fay and related flooding.

Officials of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the State Emergency Response Team (SERT) said that since the presidential declaration August 24, FEMA's Individuals and Households Program designated for 27 Florida counties has distributed more than $16.27 million to 5,087 applicants.

Meanwhile, disaster-related loans from the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) have gone to homeowners, renters and businesses in the amount of $11.34 million.

In addition, 41 Florida counties were designated eligible for FEMA's Public Assistance program to help reimburse local governments, eligible state agencies and certain qualified non-profits for uninsured disaster-related infrastructure costs.

To date, FEMA funding has been approved for 165 Public Assistance projects, while another 153 have passed initial review and are under consideration. In this process each applicant for funding, including state and local governments, may propose multiple projects such as debris removal, emergency protective services, roads, bridges, public parks, etc. Public Assistance projects are funded on a cost-share basis, with FEMA funding 75 percent of the approved reimbursement and the remaining 25 percent shared by the state and local governments.

Seven-week snapshot:

- As of Thursday, Nov. 20, a total of 18,747 individuals or households have applied for disaster assistance in the 27 Florida counties designated for individual assistance.

- Total assistance, including FEMA's Individuals and Households Program and low-interest disaster loans from the SBA, now stands at more than $27.79 million.

- FEMA's Individuals and Households Program (IHP) provides assistance in two main categories, Housing Assistance and Other Needs Assistance. IHP approved funding to 5,087 applicants totals $16,273,243.

- Housing Assistance, which helps pay for rental assistance, temporary lodging and housing repairs, has been approved for 4,106 homeowners and renters, totaling more than $14.28 million.

- Other Needs Assistance, helping cover personal property loss, medical costs and other serious disaster-related expenses not compensated by insurance, has been approved for 1,973 individuals and households, totaling more than $1.98 million.

- The SBA has approved 326 loans for homes and businesses, totaling $11.34 million.

- During disaster outreach efforts, 35 Disaster Recovery Centers provided face-to-face customer service to more than 14,494 residents from the designated counties.

- FEMA-contracted housing inspectors have completed 15,553 of 15,680 requests to view reported housing damages, or 99 percent. Turnaround time from registration to inspection averages about two days.

- Disaster Unemployment Assistance (DUA) recorded 374 applicant claims filed for the state-managed, FEMA-funded program. DUA provides benefits for workers who would not normally qualify for unemployment compensation, including farmers, farm workers, diversified farming operators, loggers, commission-paid employees, those who are self-employed and others who are not eligible for the state's program.

FEMA coordinates the federal government's role in preparing for, preventing, mitigating the effects of, responding to, and recovering from all domestic disasters, whether natural or man-made, including acts of terror.