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Following the tornadoes of May 10, President Biden declares a state of disaster for Big Bend Counties in Florida

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) – President Joe Biden declared a state of emergency for Big Bend counties on Tuesday after tornadoes swept through the area last month, according to a White House press release.

The President ordered federal assistance to support state, tribal and local recovery efforts in areas of Florida affected by recent tornadoes, storms and straight-line winds on May 10, the press release said.

The funds are available on a cost-sharing basis for “emergency debris removal and facility repair or replacement,” the White House statement said.

According to FEMA, Leon County is the only county here eligible for individual assistance.

According to FEMA, the following counties are eligible for public assistance, such as cost-shares, from local governments and certain nonprofit organizations: Gadsden, Hamilton, Leon, Madison, Lafayette, Madison, Liberty, Suwannee, Taylor and Wakulla.

Congressman Neal Dunn said in a statement to WCTV that he was pleased with the declaration of a state of emergency.

The White House statement said the aid could include grants for temporary home repairs and housing, low-interest loans to cover uninsured property damage and other programs to assist business owners and residents in rebuilding efforts.

Entrepreneurs need financial support to get back on their feet. One such entrepreneur is Cosmic Cat Comics and Renditions Art Space owner Ned Stacey. He had to close his comic book store in Railroad Square due to storm damage, but hopes to reopen his art space.

“The roof stayed on the building, but the side of the building was blown off when one of the gates was blown out and large amounts of water entered the building, destroying a lot of things,” Stacey said.

The business owner said cleanup and repairs to the building would cost between $10,000 and $20,000. Stacey said he had been waiting for the day when federal aid would be available.

Tallahassee Mayor John Dailey said he has been in direct contact with the White House over the past month, asking for help following last month's tornadoes.

The city plans to open locations where people can receive in-person assistance in filling out applications, the mayor said. He said those locations will be announced on TalGov.com.

Florida Senator Rick Scott stated on X Tuesday (formerly known as Twitter) that despite the devastating tornadoes, the full support of local, state and federal partners will help affected communities fully recover.

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Anna Harden

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