HAUPPAUGE - County Executive Steve Levy (R-Suffolk) announced this afternoon that the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) will make federal disaster assistance available to local residents and small businesses impacted by Tropical Storm Irene.

The individual assistance declaration makes Suffolk County, its residents and business owners eligible for a number of relief programs, among them expedited loans and grants, disaster unemployment assistance, food stamps, legal services and counseling.

Suffolk residents welcomed the news that like Nassau, they too will be getting federal assistance to cover hundreds of thousands of dollars in damage caused by the storm.

"We're looking for low-interest loans for these folks, and hoping for outright grants for those who were hit to the extent that they're not covered by insurance," Levy says.

Residents who may be eligible are being asked to call FEMA at 1-800-621-3362 to register.

Suffolk County is expected to open disaster recovery centers in the coming days to expedite the FEMA individual assistance process.

The White House and FEMA have declared both Nassau and Suffolk disaster areas and are already reimbursing municipalities for their losses.