FEMA officials were on the ground Thursday, touring and assessing flood damaged homes and businesses to determine if a federal disaster declaration is necessary.
That would allow for federal funds to help hard-hit flood victims.
If there is an emergency declaration, a request will come from Gov. Rick Scott's Office to FEMA and then to the White House.
- MORE INFO: Flood Information & Resources
Some of the homes are still under water.
“Everywhere I look it just distresses you so bad, you can’t even take it sometimes," said Maggie Allesi, as she fought back tears. "That’s why we haven’t been coming here much."
Allesi hasn’t been to her Bass Lake home in over a week but on Thursday she wanted to save a few things in case the rain comes. The only way into her home was by truck.
FEMA officials spent much of Thursday touring the county to determine the extent of the damage inflicted by floodwaters in recent days.
“What you’ll see are experienced teams moving at some points at a pretty rapid pace,” said Ryan Deal, a Region 4 External Affairs Officer with FEMA. “Know that they are chronicling everything they need to get and if they need to stop, if they need to visit, if they need to enter a building they’ll do that.”
One home they stopped at didn’t look under water, but when they went inside the damage was obvious.
“We’ve been going through this for almost two weeks now and it’s horrible to live like this but to see FEMA come in on a state and federal level it’s very easing now, we can breathe a little bit,” Bass Lake resident Amy Murray said.
Residents like Allesi didn’t feel the same.
“I don’t have any confidence in that," she said. "I’m praying and hoping, yeah."
So what’s next? Statewide the damage needs to reach $26.5 million for a presidential disaster declaration. However there is no threshold for help to residents. The county just hopes for everyone’s sake it happens.
“I’ve spent almost $3,000 since we walked out this door a week ago Monday," Allesi said. "Tell me how the average person could do that. You can’t. I mean, that’s just lost money. I mean, I could be redoing my home again, adding improvements to this. Instead I’m spending it to not be in my home.”
FEMA is advising residents to clean up and document all the damage in their homes. They will be in the county assessing the damage as long as it takes.
Representative David Jolly sent a letter to FEMA this past Sunday asking it to lower the regional threshold requirement for assistance.
“FEMA representatives will begin assessing the damage from weeks of rain today, as they survey areas in Pinellas, Pasco and Hillsborough counties," he said in a statement Thursday. "I continue to coordinate with FEMA and have reiterated my request of FEMA administrator Craig Fugate that should the State of Florida ask for federal help, the consistent string of storms be considered a single event for purposes of disaster aid."
"In addition, I’ve asked FEMA to considering the using the lower regional threshold requirement in determining our eligibility for assistance.”
- READ MORE: Rep. Jolly's letter to FEMA (.pdf)