Just got a note from Gov. Chris Gregoire's new press secretary, Aaron Toso. On Saturday, the governor asked that Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) expand disaster assistance to individuals in Mason, Thurston and Pacific counties due to the recent storm and flooding. That request was granted over the weekend. Counties that get both public and individual assistance get the maximum aid FEMA can provide. Often, however, disasters do little harm to private individuals and so FEMA will offer public assistance only, which means financial aid to local and tribal governments and public entities like school districts, ports and public utilities for things like replacing damaged infrastructure. An upgrade in disaster aid for individuals means help for private citizens too, with things like immediate housing and small business loans. In addition, Washington's Emergency Management Division has posted on its Web site ways people can donate to and help disaster victims in the state. It includes lists of needed stuff from each county, from generators and propane to screw drivers and duct tape. Cash and volunteers are also needed.