LITTLE ROCK, Ark. -- As part of the Arkansas disaster recovery effort following January storms, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has declared 17 counties eligible for federal disaster assistance. Of these, 13 counties are eligible for the Individual and Family Grant Program (IFGP). This program assists disaster victims with their serious needs and necessary expenses not covered by other programs made available by the federal declaration.
"The grant program provides financial assistance to people whose needs and expenses have not been met by other programs, including medical and funeral expenses," said IFGP Grant Coordinating Officer Burton Zavelo of the Arkansas Department of Human Services. The amount of the grant depends on the unmet needs of the applicant.
"The amount of any one grant to an individual or family depends upon the disaster-related, unmet needs of the applicant," Zavelo continued.
This grant program is one of the many assistance programs triggered by the major disaster declaration issued in late January. Help to renters and home owners whose primary residences were damaged or destroyed, or who face displacement from their homes may be eligible for the Disaster Housing Assistance program.
Grants may be used to cover such disaster-related expenses as essential home repairs, replacement of personal property, transportation, or the rental of equipment. Grants may also be used for items not normally covered under the SBA disaster loan program such as medical and dental bills, funeral expenses, and disaster debris removal.
Zavelo wrote the first Administrative Plan for Individual Assistance (IFGP) in Arkansas in 1974. That plan became part of the Federal Disaster Relief Act of 1974. Zavelo said that he was glad to see that the maximum amount any one individual or family can receive is now adjusted annually at the beginning of each fiscal year to reflect changes in the Consumer Price Index (CPI). Today the maximum grant that any one individual or family can receive is $13,600 compared to $5,000 in 1974, Zavelo said.
The Individual and Family Grant Program is one of the many assistance programs triggered by the major federal disaster declaration in January. Disaster victims can not apply directly for grants, but must begin the process by registering for disaster assistance by calling the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) registration number at 1-800-462-9029 (TTY: 1-800-462-7585 for the hearing impaired). The lines are open 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. seven days a week.
Applicants are urged to call the FEMA Helpline at 1-800-525-0321 to get information about the grants and other disaster assistance programs. Persons who are hearing or speech impaired may call the TTY Helpline at 1-800-660-8005. The Helpline operates seven days a week from 8:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.