U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson has joined Gov. Rick Scott’s appeal to the Obama administration to declare much of Florida a disaster zone.
“I am writing to urge that you approve the State of Florida’s request for a major disaster declaration related to Hurricane Hermine as soon as possible,” Nelson wrote in a letter to President Obama dated Wednesday.
“The eye of Hurricane Hermine made landfall on Sept. 2, 2016, in northern Florida, but the impacts of the storm affected many counties across the state, including flash flooding far down the western coast of Florida,” Nelson said.
“State and local government officials have led a concerted effort to help their communities recover, but federal assistance is needed. A major disaster declaration from you would provide vital resources to bolster Florida’s response and recovery.”
Scott wrote his letter to Obama Tuesday, noting that Hermine left $36 million in damage in the state.
A presidential disaster declaration would provide federal resources to support recovery efforts, both in individual assistance for families and public assistance to state agencies and local governments.
Thirty-eight counties have declared local state emergencies, 39 opened emergency operations centers and 34 opened shelters, Scott said.
“During the preceding 12 months, the state of Florida experienced repeated emergencies that required the development of significant state resources,” he wrote. “Individually these incidents may not have overwhelmed the ability of the State of Florida to respond. Cumulatively, however, these emergencies significantly impacted the state’s capability to provide financial support following Hurricane Hermine.”
U.S. Rep. Gwen Graham, a Democrat whose district includes Tallahassee, also supported a federal disaster declaration.
“I fully support Governor Rick Scott’s request for federal assistance and renew my call on President Obama to approve all available and applicable help for North Florida quickly,” Graham said Tuesday.