Five Central Florida members of Congress – three Democrats and two Republicans – joined a call Wednesday for Central Florida counties to be designated so that individuals can become eligible for Federal Disaster relief in the wake of Hurricane Irma.
U.S. Reps. Darren Soto and Val Demings of Orlando, Stephanie Murphy of Winter Park, Dennis Ross of Lakeland and Thomas Rooney of Okeechobee co-signed a letter to President Donald Trump urging the administration to designate Lake, Orange, Osceola, Polk, and Seminole Counties as eligible for individual assistance under the Federal Disaster Declaration for the State of Florida.
If granted, the designation would allow the Central Florida counties directly affected by Hurricane Irma to apply for FEMA financial assistance under the individuals and household program.
“We are working closely with our community and our emergency operations center to gather qualifiable evidence on the damage caused by Irma,” Soto, who led the effort, stated in a news release. “The FEM individual assistance emergency funds would help constituents after this historic storm. Together, we will rebuild our beloved Central Florida.”
On Sunday Trump issued a Major Disaster Declaration for the State of Florida, allowing for federal funds to be used in the recovery phase from Hurricane Irma. Although all 67 counties in the state were designated for public assistance, only sixteen primarily coastal counties’ residents are currently eligible for individual and household assistance.
Their letter noted that on Sunday Hurricane Irma was expected to go through Tampa Bay and then northwest from there, but instead veered east and came through western Central Florida, pounding the inland counties. The letter also noted the widespread power outages in Central Florida, affecting well over half of all customers, as evidence of the storm’s impact.