After a 200-year rain left Santa Rosa County with nearly $10 million in damage, according to the SRC appraiser, President Obama declared a local state of emergency. Today, Joy Tsubooka, Santa Rosa County public information officer, announced the major disaster declaration for the state of Florida has been amended to include the Public Assistance Program for Santa Rosa County. Through the PA program, FEMA provides supplemental federal disaster grant assistance for debris removal, emergency protective measures, and the repair, replacement, or restoration of disaster-damaged and publicly owned facilities. The PA program also encourages protection of these damaged facilities from future events by providing assistance for hazard mitigation measures during the recovery process, according to Tsubooka.
The initial major disaster declaration was approved on May 6. This allowed residents and businesses of Santa Rosa County to participate in FEMA's Individual Assistance Program. The IA program is designed to coordinate assistance for individuals, households, and businesses recovering from disaster or emergency impacts. The amendment now allows government entities to participate in the PA program.
The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) is also making its services available in the county in the way of loans for small businesses and homeowners filling in the gaps FEMA assistance may not. Debra Freeland, public affairs specialist with the SBA, said,"Our program helps small businesses, rental property owners, if they do need assistance recovering their property. That's what we do, if they do need low interest rate loans. Right now our business loans are at 4 percent." However, the SBA is not just about businesses. According to Freeland, the SBA has low interest rate loans available at 2.188 percent for home loans to repair or replace disaster-damaged real estate or personal property owned by the victim. Renters are eligible for their personal property losses, including automobiles. She said, "For homeowners, it's up to $200,000 to repair the property damage, and they can also get up to $40,000 for personal property, anything that's in the home, washer and dryer, clothing, stuff of that nature." However, Freeland said, "People do have to register with FEMA first to see what grants are available. Then they can look into loans."
William Lindsey, FEMA media relations specialist, said, "Stay connected to your recovery. Recovery is ongoing. It's a step-by-step process." Lindsey gave the website for FEMA assistance, www.disasterassistance.gov as well as the phone number, 1 (800) 621-FEMA (3362). He also said, in addition to the disaster recovery centers like the one at the Pensacola State College Milton campus, "We also have our DSAT teams, Disaster Survivor Assistance Teams, and those teams are going around Gulf Breeze knocking on doors, and coming here as well." Lindsey said these members come to residents' homes who are already registered or simply show a significant amount of damage and can give residents immediate feedback on what assistance is available to them. As damage may not be apparent right away, Lindsey said residents in the disaster zone should register with FEMA to be proactive and be aware of available help as soon as damage appears.
Freeland said, "Whatever the situation, contact FEMA. If you get approved for a loan, you don't have to take it." She also provided the SBA website, www.sba.gov.