An American flag is shown in a flooded yard during a downpour, Thursday, July 4, 2013 in Panama City, Fla. Emergency officials from Pensacola to Panama City encouraged residents to stay off water-clogged roads following days of heavy rain. Forecasters called for more rain through the next several days. (AP Photo/The News Herald,Andrew P Johnson)

Andrew P Johnson

MIAMI (AP) — Federal funding will help communities in the Florida Panhandle return to normal after a major flooding over the July 4th holiday week, state emergency management officials said.

"Helping communities return to normal after a disaster is our first priority and this assistance is an important first step in that process," said Florida Division of Emergency Management Director Bryan W. Koon in a statement.

Gov. Rick Scott announced on Friday that the state had received a Presidential Disaster Declaration to assist counties in the Panhandle affected by severe storms and flooding. Holmes, Walton and Washington Counties have been declared for Public Assistance.

Scott requested the disaster declaration. The state estimates there was $29 million worth of damage caused by the heavy rains.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency's Public Assistance program provides grant assistance for debris removal and emergency protective measures. Costs for repair, replacement, or restoration of disaster-damaged, publicly-owned facilities can also be covered.

Counties across the Panhandle felt significant impacts to homes, roadways, and infrastructure due to the storms with some areas receiving over 12 inches of rain between July 2nd and July 7th. Walton and Washington Counties received nearly 20 inches of rain. Rivers in the Florida Panhandle reached flood stage, including the Choctawhatchee River in Walton County, which reached major flood stage, officials said.

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