6 Fla. counties to receive federal funding

Oct 28, 2008

Sarasota Herald-Tribune--October 27, 2008

The Associated Press

MIAMI – President Bush on Monday declared a major disaster area existed in six Florida counties affected by Hurricane Gustav in late August and early September.

With the declaration, federal funding was made available to supplement state and local assistance. It will be used to support recovery and repairs in Bay, Escambia, Franklin, Gulf, Okaloosa and Santa Rosa counties.

The funds are available to state and local governments, as well as some nonprofit organizations.

"This is a welcome declaration," said Mike Stone, Florida Division of Emergency Management spokesman.

Some residents of other Gulf Coast states sought shelter in Florida during Gustav. Stone said the counties where evacuees stayed could use the funding to help recoup money spent during the effort.

Gustav followed closely behind Tropical Storm Fay, which drenched parts of the state. Because some Florida counties were dealing with two systems, Stone said he was not bothered by the timing of the funding announcement, which comes months after Gustav formed.

"When you have multiple events in a row, sometimes your time frames are longer," Stone said. "But we’re very appreciative that we received this declaration. This will mean a lot to our impacted counties."

A message left with the Federal Emergency Management Agency was not immediately returned.

"When you’re working multiple events on top of each other, it does take a while," Stone said. "But we’ve had a very good working relationship with FEMA and the state, and we’ll continue to work through the Gustav event as well as Fay."