WASHINGTON – President Bush (search) declared a major disaster in the state of Florida on Friday, ordering federal aid for the recovery effort just two hours after Hurricane Charley (search) hit the mainland.
Federal funding will be available to Charlotte, Lee, Manatee and Sarasota counties. People affected by the storm in those areas are eligible for temporary housing grants and home repairs, low-cost loans to cover uninsured property losses and other programs to aid in their recovery.
State and local governments can also receive 75 percent federal funding for debris removal and emergency protective measures.
FEMA (search) said more counties and forms of assistance may be designated after the storm's damage is assessed.
Residents and business owners in counties covered by the disaster declaration can apply for assistance beginning Saturday by calling FEMA at 1-800-621-3362, or 1-800-462-7585 for the hearing and speech impaired, between 8 a.m. and 6 p.m.
In Seattle on Friday, Bush said: "Our prayers are with you and your families tonight. ... We have deployed resources to help and declared an emergency and the process is now in place to provide federal aid to those who may be affected by this hurricane."