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President and wife on tour of Michael-damaged Florida

Connecticut State News
15 Oct 2018, 22:37 GMT+10

WASHINGTON DC - U.S. President Donald Trump on Monday is touring hurricane-ravaged areas of Florida to assess the damage brought by Hurricane Michael last Week.

Trump's wife Melania is accompanying him on the visit.

As the clean-up goes on, and the search for survivors continues, the White House has not released an itinerary of the president's tour.

The town that received the most damage during the hurricane, where winds reached up to 250 kilometres an hour, was Mexico Beach.

Florida Governor Rick Scott has described the town as resembling that of a war zone. 

Mexico Beach Police Chief Anthony Kelly told VOA's Spanish Service, "When you come here and see the devastation, it's hard, it's emotionally hard."

"We know each person in the majority of the houses. They know us," Kelly said. "All these people are close to us. And now we're going around the neighborhoods making sure that they're not in any of these houses that are so extremely damaged."

"Looking in the debris, seeing photos of grandkids, people that we know that have come back here year after year, that's the emotional side," he said. "I've got officers that this is their first catastrophic event, and it's hard to explain to them, you know, it's going to get better, because they're seeing reality."

Seventeen deaths have been attributed to Michael. Property damage too has been substantial.

On Sunday Mr Trump announced the Federal Government will pick up the tab for the restoration works.

The president earlier, on Thursday, within a day of the hurricane peaking, declared the affected areas as a disaster area, and ordered federal aid to supplement State and local recovery efforts in the areas affected by the hurricane.

Mr Trump's action makes federal funding available to affected individuals in the counties of Bay, Franklin, Gulf, Taylor, and Wakulla.

Assistance can include grants 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, a White House statement said.

Federal funding also was made available to State, tribal, and eligible local governments and certain private non-profit organizations on a cost-sharing basis for emergency work in the counties of Bay, Calhoun, Franklin, Gadsden, Gulf, Hamilton, Jackson, Jefferson, Leon, Liberty, Madison, Suwannee, Taylor, and Wakulla.

Federal funding was also made available on a cost-sharing basis for hazard mitigation measures statewide.

Brock Long, Administrator Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), Department of Homeland Security, named Thomas J. McCool as the Federal Coordinating Officer for Federal recovery operations in the affected areas.

Additional designations, the White House said, may be made at a later date if requested by the State and warranted by the results of further damage assessments.

Residents and business owners who sustained losses in the designated counties can begin applying for assistance immediately by registering online at or by calling 1-800-621-FEMA (3362) or 1-800-462-7585 (TTY) for the hearing and speech impaired. The toll-free telephone numbers will operate from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. (local time) seven days a week until further notice.

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