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By Robert Connors
Managing Editor 

President Biden's Disaster Declaration Extends Help to Polk

Local Governments Also Eligible for Funding for "Permanent" Improvements


Last updated 10/8/2022 at 11:16am

Individuals in Polk County can apply for FEMA Individual Assistance for home repairs, lost and damaged property, food assistance, and more. according to a statement issued by the office of Congressman Darren Soto, who represents the Lake Wales area.

Soto recently welcomed FEMA Administrator Deanne Criswell "to assess damages and thank our first responders for their continued rescue and recovery efforts," he said.

Soto expressed gratitude "for our first responders, who have worked tirelessly to keep our community members safe. As always, please know that my office is also here to serve you during this time."

Soto added that he had "sent a letter to FEMA and the Department of Housing and Urban Development encouraging them to approve the Transitional Shelter Assistance (TSA) Program to provide short-term lodging assistance for victims of the storm. For long-term solutions, we also asked them to consider activating the Disaster Housing Assistance Program (DHAP)." Both programs would aid in recovery from the acute housing shortage in the area, a situation worsened by the impacts of Hurricane Ian.

Soto further revealed that the Major Disaster Declaration issued by President Joe Biden on September 29, 2022 includes permanent work for Polk County (Categories C-G). In addition to Individual Assistance and assistance for debris removal and emergency protective measures, the county is eligible for permanent repair to roads and bridges, water control facilities, buildings and equipment, utilities, parks, recreational areas, and more.

Courtesy NASA

Funds should be made available to municipal as well as county government, allowing for the conduct of repairs that extend beyond temporary recovery to include permanent infrastructure improvements and "hardening" against future impacts.

According to the Federal Emergency Management Agency, "Public Assistance - Assistance to State, Tribal, and local governments and certain private nonprofit organizations for emergency work and the repair or replacement of disaster-damaged facilities...may include the following Categories:

A - Debris removal

B - Emergency protective measures

C – Roads and bridges

D – Water control facilities

E – Buildings and equipment

F – Utilities

G – Parks, recreational and other facilities"

"We are thrilled about this development," Soto said.


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