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Okaloosa and Walton County residents begin to receive FEMA assistance
Last week FEMA units began setting up in Escambia and Santa Rosa Counties after President Obama declared the Counties disaster areas because of flooding.
Now Okaloosa and Walton County will receive the same help after they were designated earlier this afternoon.
With Federal Emergency Management Agency Crews on the ground in Escambia and Santa Rosa Counties, residents of Okaloosa and Walton Counties wondered when they might get the same help. Now, it's on its way.
President Obama signed the disaster declaration for Okaloosa and Walton Counties early Monday afternoon.
Deborah Alfassa, "I'm starting from scratch. Everything has to be redone. Everything."
A FEMA representative said the agency is working on a plan to get survivor assistance teams to the area, but when and where those teams will be available is still not yet determined.
The spokesperson said the agency is working as fast as possible.
FEMA will be helping individual residents with issues like rental assistance, temporary housing, repairs, and property loss, transportation and other necessities.
Deborah Alfassa, "I need to get back into my house and get my life together. I worked three jobs, and I haven't skipped a beat. People have been generous and making donations, but I need help."
For immediate needs, victims should contact charities like the Red Cross or United Way. A website and 1-800 number have been established as well, that victims may use to file claims.
Shannon Hiatt, "It's a huge weight off of our shoulders. It takes a lot of pressure off of us trying to do everything by ourselves. We can actually get some help from some professionals and feel comfortable paying for them to do it."
Folks we talked to, like Shannon Hiat, said knowing help is coming has made them more optimistic about the future.
Shannon Hiatt, "It's just a process going through everything. But in time, we'll get back. We'll get back into our homes, and make it our home again. So we're looking forward to it."
FEMA officials are urging residents of Okaloosa and Walton Counties not to wait for crews to arrive, but to get registered now.