President Joe Biden spoke with Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis early Thursday and approved the governor’s request to declare a major federal disaster.
Biden approved nine counties to be major disaster areas. DeSantis said on Thursday he expects additional counties will be added.
The declaration came a day after Category 4 Hurricane Ian struck Southwest Florida. The order was issued for Charlotte, Collier, DeSoto, Hardee, Hillsborough, Lee, Manatee, Pinellas, and Sarasota counties.
By declaring a major disaster, federal grants are now open to residents for temporary housing and home repairs, low-cost loans to cover uninsured property losses, and other programs to help individuals and business owners recover from the effects of the disaster.
The grants are intended to cover costs that insurance will not cover.
The declaration also means that the federal government will share the costs of removing debris and providing other resources to local governments and nonprofit organizations.
Biden said Federal Emergency Management Agency Administrator Deanne Criswell will arrive in Florida Friday to oversee the government's response to the storm. Biden said he plans to visit Florida at some point to assess the damage.