TALLAHASSEE - Gov. Jeb Bush asked the Small Business Administration to declare Polk County a disaster area so residents forced from their homes by flooding can qualify for low-interest loans.
In Friday's letter to area director Timothy R. F. Skaggs, Bush said 106 homes and one business in the county have been destroyed or have sustained major damage because of flooding.
More than 300 homes west of Lake Wales have been flooded since July, when Saddlebag Lake overflowed.
After pleading with local and state officials for months, residents got help last week when the county began pumping water from Saddlebag Lake into Lake Rosalie.
Workers spent weeks welding two miles of pipeline to move the water, and Polk officials have said it will be months before all the water is out of the manufactured-home community. Years of above-average rainfall, last year's hurricanes and this summer's showers caused the lake to overflow into the 700-home development.
Saddlebag Lake isn't the only flooding problem in southeastern Polk.
Lake Belle also is flooded, and water has seeped into some surrounding homes there.