FEMA assistance coming or not

Sources have shared with Inweekly that the individual assistance program may not be activated for Escambia County because FEMA officials say the damage to our homes doesn’t meet an algorithm set by its pencil-pushers. However, no one outside of FEMA knows what the threshold is.

“All of us operate in systems where there are rules and objective things that you can meet to find out what standardized issues.” Commission Chairman Steven Barry said last week. “It was re-articulated today that it’s clearly a subjective issue…That’s scary.”

South Alabama residents began applying for individual assistance on Monday, Sept. 21. They have since received housing assistance (HA) grants for repairs to primary residences or for renting temporary housing totaled more than $8.9 million, and other Needs Assistance (ONA) grants to cover childcare, moving and storage, medical and dental expenses, etc. totaled just over $2.1 million, according to FEMA.

Inweekly has been told if we don’t receive the individual assistance program by next Monday, it’s unlikely we will ever get it.

However, there is a counter narrative coming out of County Administrator Janice Gilley’s office. She believes that President Trump will announce the program when he visits Pensacola later this month—around the time of the Pensacola Interstate Fair.

Meanwhile, CARES applications for family assistance have been flooding in. We’re hearing more than 9,000 households have submitted applications and more are expected today, the last day of the application period. To meet the need, the Escambia County Commission must double, at least, the $9.58 million that it allocated for families.

Unfortunately, the submission of an application doesn’t mean checks will be sent out anytime soon under the Gilley administration. On Sept. 4, the county closed its portal for CARES housing assistance grants after only four days. No housing checks have been dispersed yet.