Almost Entire State a Disaster Area from Freezing Weather

The state is now beginning to see the effects from the freezing weather that gripped the state for two straight weeks in early January.

The state is comprised of 67 counties; 60 of them have been declared primary natural disaster areas.

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) has determined that there were significant enough crop losses in those counties to warrant the declaration.

The day after the freeze broke, Jan. 15, Gov. Charlie Crist asked USDA Secretary Thomas Vilsack to declare all 67 counties disaster areas.

“We are grateful to Secretary Vilsack and our federal partners at the USDA for granting this needed disaster assistance to Floridians,” said Crist. “The USDA designation will assist our agricultural industry in obtaining economic relief for losses sustained during the exceptionally long freezing temperatures last month.”

Farmers in the affected counties can now be eligible for emergency assistance from the Farm Service Agency.

The counties not covered by the declaration are mostly in the panhandle — Escambia, Santa Rosa, Okaloosa, Walton and Jackson.

The other two counties are Seminole County in central Florida and Clay County on the First Coast.

Even though some counties are not covered, individuals can still get help.

“Disasters often occur over wide areas,” said David Halstead, interim director of the Florida Division of Emergency Management. “Under the declaration, farm operators in the contiguous counties of Clay, Jackson, Seminole and Walton are also eligible to apply for assistance if they suffered production losses.”

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