Governor Rick Scott made a request on Wednesday, July 24 to President Barack Obama for the State of Florida to receive a Major Disaster Declaration for Public Assistance to aid Florida counties impacted by flooding over the July 4 holiday week. An estimated $29 million of damage was caused to infrastructure across Panhandle communities when heavy rain fell the first week of July.
"The amount of rainfall caused significant damage to communities in the Florida Panhandle. Counties received damage which totals more than four times the county's budget for roadway infrastructure for an entire year," said Florida Division of Emergency Management Director (FDEM), Bryan W. Koon. "I am confident the federal government understands the financial impact this has on these communities and the importance of federal assistance to aid in the recovery."
Bay, Holmes, Okaloosa, Walton and Washington counties received significant damage to homes, roadways, and infrastructure due to the rainfall received. Joint Preliminary Damage Assessments were conducted with representatives from the counties, the State and Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). The estimated damage in the five county area totals $29,862,883.40. In Florida, the damage threshold for federal disaster relief assistance is $25,757,794.70.
FEMA will review Governor Scott's request and advise President Obama on next steps. If a declaration is made, Public Assistance would be granted to the declared counties. FEMA's Public Assistance program provides grant assistance for debris removal and emergency protective measures, as well as costs for repair, replacement, or restoration of disaster-damaged, publicly-owned facilities.
Areas of the Florida Panhandle received over twelve inches of rain between July 2-7. Walton and Washington Counties received nearly 20 inches of rain. Rivers in the Florida Panhandle reached flood stage, including the Choctawhatchee River in Walton County, which reached major flood stage.
Under the leadership of the Governor, FDEM Director Koon directed the State Emergency Response Team (SERT) to support the affected counties from the State Emergency Operations Center (SEOC), in accordance with the State of Florida's emergency plan. Members of the SERT were deployed to assist the affected counties and to ensure a coordinated response to, and recovery from, this event.
For more information about emergency response in Florida, the 2013 Hurricane Season, and how you can Get A Plan! visit FloridaDisaster.org. Follow FDEM on Twitter at @FLSERT, on Facebook at Facebook.com/FloridaSERT and Facebook.com/KidsGetAPlan.
Information provided by Gov. Rick Scott's Office