Joe Biden’s major disaster declaration will start FEMA funds flowing

orange county hurricane ian ap flooding
The declaration targets nine counties, but could be expanded as estimates are still coming in.

The federal money will start flowing to alleviate Hurricane Ian’s deluge that cut a path through the state as President Joe Biden called the storm “the most consequential hurricane … in a long, long time,” Thursday morning.

The storm was declared a “major disaster.”

The agonizing churn of Hurricane Ian across the state took out bridges, roads and homes, likely resulting in losses in the tens of billions. Biden’s declaration will bring the full power of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to the state for the next 30 days, to begin repairing the state’s damage and rebuilding, a FEMA news release says.

“We have been completely responsive to the Governor of Florida — everything he’s needed and asked for,” Biden said in Thursday morning comments. “And it’s a lot.”

The 30-day declaration is not the 60 days Gov. Ron DeSantis asked for. But it means the federal government will cover 100% of the cost of debris removal and emergency protective measures, including public assistance and direct federal assistance.

Also, “affected individuals” in Charlotte, Collier, DeSoto, Hardee, Hillsborough, Lee, Manatee, Pinellas and Sarasota counties are eligible to receive federal funding for temporary housing and home repairs and low-interest loans to cover uninsured property losses.

That declaration will allow the state to get a start toward recovery, said DeSantis, adding that he expects more counties will soon be added for the aid for county and city governments and individuals.

“I just spoke with the President this morning and he offered support,” DeSantis said. “I told them that thanks for this but because the storm has moved inland and caused a lot of potential damage in the center part of our state that we were going to be asking for those counties to be expanded.”

Biden appeared to concur in his comments Thursday morning.

“I don’t think we’re going to know the consequence of this hurricane until tomorrow afternoon, because we have to figure out — first of all, it hadn’t finished going through, No. 1,” Biden said. “But No. 2, we’re also not in a situation where we know what — most of the damage and most of the people who get hurt are in the aftermath. And so there’s a lot going on.”

Republican U.S. Rep. Byron Daniels, who represents the area where Ian made landfall, said individual benefits are key so people can get storm relief directly.

“People need to be able to make individual declarations to FEMA for assistance and aid,” Daniels said.

The latest reports Thursday are that more counties suffered record-setting flooding hundreds of miles from where the storm landed in Southwest Florida Wednesday, DeSantis said.

In addition to the state efforts, tribal and eligible local governments and certain private nonprofit organizations in the declared nine counties will be eligible for FEMA help with debris and emergency protective measures, the release said.

Residents and business owners in the designated areas can apply for disaster assistance at, by calling 800-621-3362, or by using the FEMA mobile app. If you use a relay service, such as video relay service (VRS), captioned telephone service or others, give FEMA the number for that service, the release said.

Anne Geggis

Anne Geggis is a South Florida journalist who began her career in Vermont and has worked at the Sun-Sentinel, the Daytona Beach News-Journal and the Gainesville Sun covering government issues, health and education. She was a member of the Sun-Sentinel team that won the 2019 Pulitzer Prize for coverage of the Parkland high school shooting. You can reach her on Twitter @AnneBoca or by emailing [email protected].


  • Tom

    September 29, 2022 at 11:56 am

    Tropical 3 whirling dervish

    • Biker Guy

      September 29, 2022 at 12:40 pm

      You can’t even get the name right. Fortunately Biden is president and isn’t requiring DeSantis to kiss his butt for relief funds. Thank heavens we have an adult in the White House.

      • Tom

        September 29, 2022 at 12:55 pm

        Biden is much better than Trump. I agree. Trump was a dangerous dumbass..

  • ScienceBLVR

    September 29, 2022 at 1:45 pm

    Thanks Joe! Of course our governor isn’t wasting a minute to look like a leader and get his mug on the telly. I wonder if he’ll mention all those “Blue” states who have promised help, resources, utility personnel etc. No politics on their side even though DeSantis never misses an opportunity to spread vitriol and false hatred in their direction. I guess NJ has forgiven him for not voting for funds when Sandy hit their state. Yeah, that’s the difference between the Blue and the Red states ..we help people.

  • Jeremiah McCalip

    September 30, 2022 at 2:55 am

    Bidens the worst president ever red wave coming soon

  • Mark

    September 30, 2022 at 5:47 pm

    What about Volusia County , what no damage here

  • Minerva Pilier

    October 1, 2022 at 7:12 pm

    What will happen to those of us who have roof damage in orange county that insurance will not cover? My kitchen ceiling got wet and now has a long long do i wait to get it tarped to avoid more damage. Of course they will send aid.
    From FEMA..isnt what that fund is for? Since when does it matter it dems or republicans agree? Its all the same…just politics


Comments are closed.


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