Feds declare Hurricane Hermine a major disaster
President Barack Obama on Wednesday declared a major disaster in Florida following Hurricane Hermine, making federal relief money available in the North Florida and Tampa Bay areas hardest hit by the storm.
The president's declaration allows temporary housing and home repair grants, low-cost loans to cover uninsured losses and "other programs to help individuals and business owners recover," according to the White House. Included in the declaration are Pinellas, Hillsborough, Pasco, Hernando, Citrus, Dixie, Leon and Levy counties.
It spans the period of Aug. 31 to Sept. 11.
Hermine, which struck the Big Bend on Sept. 2 and caused flooding throughout Tampa Bay, was the first hurricane to hit landfall in Florida in 11 years. It caused property damage in coastal communities and led to weeklong power outages in Tallahassee.
Gov. Rick Scott officially requested the disaster declaration on Sept. 20, saying the state sustained more than $36 million in damages.
“Hurricane Hermine was the first hurricane to hit our state in over a decade and following the storm, I met with many businesses and families who were severely impacted," he said in a statement Wednesday. "While the state immediately stepped in to provide resources and assistance to families, this funding will help our local communities rebuild.”
Sens. Bill Nelson and Marco Rubio submitted letters to Obama urging he agree to Scott's request.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency is continuing to survey other parts of the state not included in the declaration, and more counties could be added, according to the White House.
People and businesses who sustained losses in the storm can apply for federal aid Thursday on FEMA's website, disasterassistance.gov, or via phone at 1-800-621-3362.