4 Fla. counties to get federal aid

President Bush declared Sunday that four Florida counties hit hardest by Tropical Storm Fay are major disaster areas, making them eligible for federal aid.

The declaration makes funds available for emergency work and repairs to governments in Brevard, Monroe, Okeechobee and St. Lucie counties.

Rescue teams are evacuating people from 180 homes in a Florida town about 25 miles north of Orlando due to flooding from what was Tropical Storm Fay.

Officials say they're using boats to evacuate people from DeBary, where some streets are under four feet of water.

State and federal emergency officials are still assessing the damage from the weeklong storm that caused at least 11 deaths in Florida and one each in Georgia and Alabama. More counties could be added.

The funding has not yet been extended to individual homeowners whose properties were damaged by high winds or flood waters.

“I'm pleased about the declaration and grateful to President Bush,” Florida Gov. Charlie Crist said before touring flood damage in north Florida.

Mary Blakeney, spokeswoman for the emergency management office in Okeechobee County, said officials hope to have a decision in coming days about individual homeowner assistance.

“Those calls have been coming in … and, at this point, we have some teams coming in that will be doing a more detailed assessment where they will be going into these homes and looking at what type of damage they've had,” Blakeney said.

Fay was downgraded to a tropical depression on Saturday night after making a record fourth landfall in Florida. Its remnants were forecast to dump several inches of rain across Alabama, Mississippi, eastern Louisiana and Tennessee on Sunday and Monday.