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Obama Approves NWFL Disaster Declaration


President Obama Tuesday declared Escambia and Santa Rosa Counties a major disaster area. That makes federal funding available to affected individuals, whose property sustained damage from severe storms, tornadoes, straight-line winds, and flooding from April 28th through Tuesday, May 6th. 

Residents and business owners sustaining losses in Escambia and Santa Rosa can begin applying for assistance today by registering online at DisasterAssistance.gov, or by calling 1-800-621-FEMA.

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, which included more than 20 inches of rain falling on parts of the two counties.

Governor Rick Scott made the request last week, after declaring a state of emergency for 26 Florida counties in the Panhandle and Big Bend. He toured flood damage in the Pensacola area. About 4,000 homes in Escambia and Santa Rosa are said to be damaged.

Numerous roads and bridges were still closed as of Tuesday, including Piedmont Road – which was washed out from Tronjo Drive to Hallmark Drive. Currently, Escambia’s infrastructure repairs are estimated at $21 million and are expected to climb.

Gov. Rick Scott says in Escambia County alone, the economic losses from the flooding may exceed $50 million.

Okaloosa County’s damage assessment stands at $12.4 million. It’s unclear if the county will meet FEMA disaster aid requirements.

In a written statement, FEMA Director Craig Fugate said damage surveys are continuing, and more counties and additional forms of assistance may be designated after they’re fully completed.

Once again -- individuals and business owners with storm-related losses in Escambia and Santa Rosa Counties can now register online at DisasterAssistance.gov, or call 1-800-621-FEMA.