Hurricane

Obama signs Florida disaster declaration after Hurricane Matthew

Hurricane Matthew batters Flagler Beach

Hurricane Matthew caused severe beach erosion in Flagler Beach destroying parts of A1A along the coast.
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Hurricane Matthew caused severe beach erosion in Flagler Beach destroying parts of A1A along the coast.

President Barack Obama signed a new disaster declaration for Florida, freeing up additional federal funding and resources to help with clean-up and recovery efforts after Hurricane Matthew.

The White House announced Obama’s act early Sunday morning.

While Obama already granted a preliminary disaster declaration before the storm, a second one after the storm is required to trigger post-storm recovery funding.

The new declaration makes available certain federal funding to state and eligible local governments and some nonprofits on a cost-sharing basis for emergency work in eight Florida counties, the White House said. Those counties span the east coast from the Treasure Coast to northeast Florida — areas which felt the brunt of Matthew in the state: Brevard, Duval, Flagler, Indian River, Nassau, St. Johns, St. Lucie and Volusia.

Florida Gov. Rick Scott’s office said the Obama administration had approved only portions of the governor’s request, such as the declaration for debris removal and emergency protective measures, but it hadn’t yet authorized funding for individual assistance or for permanent work to government buildings, roads and parks.

“While the state is helping our communities any way we can, I am going to continue to fight for every available resource from the federal government so our families and businesses can rebuild and get back to normal,” Scott said in a statement Sunday. “We are going to continue to submit requests to the federal government until they fulfill our entire disaster declaration.”

Storm surge from Hurricane Matthew slammed the Bayfront areas of St. Augustine on Friday, forcing residents to wake up Saturday, October 8, 2016, and assess the damage.

The White House said Federal Emergency Management Agency officials are continuing damage surveys in other areas of the state and that more counties and assistance could be designated once those are complete.

On Saturday morning — before signing the new declaration — Obama had called Scott to discuss recovery efforts. It was their second conversation in a week.

During that call, Scott pressed the president to fulfill the state’s request for the new declaration, which Scott put in on Friday. Obama did not tell Scott at that time when the new request would be approved, Scott’s spokeswoman Jackie Schutz said.

Both times, Obama’s call to Scott came as part of a series of calls Obama also made to governors in Georgia, North Carolina, and South Carolina to get assessments on how the states were first preparing for and then dealing with Hurricane Matthew.

“The president is committed to providing federal support to help these states respond to the storm’s impact,” Principal Deputy White House Press Secretary Eric Schultz said. “The president has already declared emergencies in each of these four states and ordered federal aid to supplement state, tribal, and local response efforts.”

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