President Obama OKs Maryland disaster aid

The state, 13 Maryland county governments and some private nonprofit organizations are now eligible for federal recovery assistance from damage from Hurricane Irene.

President Barack Obama declared a major federal disaster Friday on the Eastern Shore and in Cecil, Harford, Calvert and St. Mary's counties to supplement recovery efforts for costs and damage incurred between Aug. 24 and Sept. 5.

Irene made landfall Aug. 27 on the North Carolina's Outer Banks and swept north just 10 miles off the Maryland beaches. Although Ocean City was evacuated as a precaution, damage in Maryland was generally less than feared. The storm's biggest impact on the state included flooding, and downed trees and power lines. More than 800,000 customers lost electricity during the storm, some for as long as a week.

Gov. Martin O'Malley had requested federal disaster declarations for 22 counties and Baltimore City. But a FEMA spokeswoman said only those jurisdictions that met per-capita damage thresholds were included in the declaration.

The assistance from the Federal Emergency Management Agency can include 75 percent of the costs of removing debris and for steps taken to save lives and protect property and public health.

Similar aid is available for the repair or replacement of roads, bridges, schools and other public facilities, and for projects undertaken to prevent future loss of life and property from natural disasters.

The Department of Housing and Urban Development can provide additional aid, including foreclosure relief and mortgage assistance for families that have lost their homes.

Maryland weather blog: Frank Roylance on meteorology

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