COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. -- The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), the Colorado Office of Emergency Management and the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) have provided disaster assistance of more than $3,600,000 to more than 2,000 people affected by the severe storms and flooding that occurred between April 29 - May 19.
Assistance available to homeowners, renters and businesses includes FEMA housing assistance, low interest loans from the U.S. Small Business Administration, Disaster Unemployment Assistance for individuals not covered by other types of unemployment benefits, legal services, and, in some cases, grants to cover other uninsured or underinsured losses. The specific amount and type of assistance provided varies from case to case.
Following is a summary of the week's activities:
- A Disaster Recovery Center (DRC) opened in Colorado Springs on June 10. Representatives from state, federal and voluntary agencies staffed the DRC and provided information to residents and business owners in the counties affected by the severe storms and flooding.
- The deadline for applying for Disaster Unemployment Assistance is June 18, with the exception of Pueblo County, which has a deadline of July 8.
- The Disaster Recovery Center (DRC) in La Junta will be open on Saturday, June 12, from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. and closed Sunday, June 13. Starting Monday, June 14, the DRC will operate 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. through Friday, June 18.
- Disaster recovery officials in Colorado are urging residents in tornado-prone areas to construct a "safe room" in their homes. A safe room provides protection against high wind hazard and can be constructed either above or below ground, with either reinforced concrete or wood-and-steel walls anchored to a concrete slab or foundation. A 25-page illustrated booklet, Taking Shelter from the Storm: Building a Safe Room Inside Your House, that outlines the basics of in-house safe room design is available free from FEMA by calling 1-800-480-2520.
- Some renters, homeowners, and businesses that have received disaster assistance may
find their expenses for essential and necessary items to recover from the storms and floods are more than the aid they have received. If so, they should call the FEMA Helpline at 1-800-525-0321 to discuss the possibility of more assistance.
- Individual taxpayers who sustained losses as a result of the storms and flooding may be able to get tax relief from the Internal Revenue Service by claiming casualty losses immediately by amending their 1998 tax forms. However, they may also find it more advantageous to wait to claim losses on 1999 tax returns due next April. For information, they should call 1-800-829-1040.
- As of Friday, June 10, the disaster assistance for Bent, El Paso, Larimer, Otero, Pueblo and Weld counties was more than $3,600,000. FEMA's Disaster Housing Assistance Program dispersed $1,229,144. The State of Colorado administered Individual Family Grants program provided $405, 531. The U.S. Small Business Administration approved $2,185,900 in low-interest disaster loans to individuals and businesses.
- Hearing impaired individuals may call the FEMA TTY Hotline at 1-800-462-7858.