LITTLE ROCK, Ark. -- As part of the disaster recovery effort following the 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).
"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 any one grant to an individual or family depends upon the disaster-related, unmet needs of the applicant," he continued.
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 or each fiscal year to reflect changes in the Consumer Price Index (CPI). The maximum grant that an individual or family can receive in fiscal 1999 is $13,600 compared to $5,000 in 1974, he said.
The grant program is one of the many assistance programs triggered by the major disaster declaration issued in late January. Help to renters and homeowners 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 and essential transportation. Grants may also be used for items not normally covered under other programs, such as medical and dental bills, and funeral expenses.
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 6:00 p.m., Monday through Saturday.
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 from 8:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m., Monday through Saturday.