ATLANTA, Ga. -- Flooding spawned by Hurricane Floyd's 15 to 20-inch rains in eastern North Carolina have resulted in many questions about federal and state programs that provide direct grants to homeowners who suffered losses to dwellings or personal property.
Of the 66 counties declared a major disaster area by President Clinton, flooding has affected all to some degree, and rivers aren't expected to crest until mid-week.
Through FEMA's Individual and Family Grant (IFG) program, a safety net is provided for people who have exhausted all other means of assistance and still have disaster-related expenses that can't meet. The program provides for needs beyond those involving emergency shelter.
Here are the most common questions and answers about the program.
Q. Who can get an Individual and Family Grant?
A. Eligible applicants are those with uninsured or underinsured losses who have applied for and been denied a disaster loan from the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) prior to being referred to the IFG program for consideration of eligibility for real property, personal property, or transportation expenses. Applicants with medical, dental, funeral and certain other disaster-related expenses may be referred to the program immediately upon completing FEMA's initial toll-free registration process.
Q. How much are the grant awards?
A. Grant sizes vary depending on applicants' needs. The maximum IFG award is $13,600. The average grant nationally is about $2,500.
Q. What are some specific items the grant program might help me pay for?
A. A grant may help pay to fix or replace furniture, appliances and other essential property. The grants may also help flood victims pay for moving and storage expenses, sandbagging and mobile home towing relating to the flood.
Q. What won't the grants help me pay for?
A. Grants won't help people pay for improvements or additions to real or personal property, recreational property, luxury or decorative items, or business/self-employment expenses.
Q. Can the grants help me repair my vehicle or buy another one if the flooding makes it unrepairable?
A. Yes. The grant may provide money to repair or replace necessary vehicles that had no comprehensive insurance or were otherwise underinsured.
Q. Who administers and pays for the program?
A. The state of North Carolina administers the program and pays 25 percent of the cost. FEMA pays 75 percent of the cost.
Q. What does the program require from applicants?
A. The applicant may be asked to provide verification of expenditures for medical, dental, funeral, transportation and other disaster-related costs.
Q. How do I apply for an Individual and Family Grant?
A. You begin the process by call the toll-free registration number that triggers your application for all federal and state disaster aid. The number is 1-800-462-9029. For the speech or hearing impaired, it is 1-800-462-7585.
Federal and state officials reminded victims that if they suffered losses in both Hurricanes Floyd and Dennis, which struck two weeks earlier, they need to call the toll-free number and register for assistance for each disaster.