State Seeks Wider Disaster Declaration for Idalia

Published on September 5,2023 by Chris Thompson

In the aftermath of Category 3 Hurricane Idalia’s impact on Florida, President Biden declared seven counties in the state as disaster areas. However, Governor Ron DeSantis and State Emergency Management Director Kevin Guthrie are pushing for more counties to be added to the disaster declaration to secure additional federal funding.

The declaration currently provides federal assistance to Citrus, Dixie, Hamilton, Lafayette, Levy, Suwannee, and Taylor counties. Governor DeSantis expressed his expectation that more counties will be included, citing the precedent set after Hurricane Ian. Madison County, in particular, suffered significant power loss during Idalia and is likely to be considered for assistance.

President Biden is scheduled to visit the affected areas on Saturday to assess the damage caused by Idalia, which made landfall in Taylor County before moving through North Florida into Georgia.

As of now, search-and-rescue operations are focused on Madison, Suwannee, and Lafayette counties, with efforts already completed in 15 other counties. Once search and rescue conclude, the focus will shift to recovery efforts aimed at helping communities recover quickly.

While there has been one confirmed death related to Idalia, the federal disaster declaration opens doors to various forms of assistance, including grants for temporary housing, home repairs, and low-cost loans to cover uninsured property losses. The federal government will also cover the costs of debris removal and emergency protective measures for a 30-day period.

Federal Emergency Management Agency Administrator Deanne Criswell joined Governor DeSantis to assess the storm’s impact and will use observations and imagery to determine the necessary support programs.

As of Friday morning, many utility customers were still without power, with efforts underway to restore electricity. Base camps have been established in Dixie County and Madison County to distribute supplies and meals to residents. Special-needs nurses are being deployed to address medical concerns, and travel trailers will provide temporary housing, a significant improvement in response time compared to previous hurricanes.

This comes less than a year after Hurricane Ida, a Category 4 storm, caused extensive damage in Lee and Charlotte counties as it crossed the state.

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