NEW CASTLE, Del. -- Disaster programs of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) are designed to provide people a safe place to live, and to help individuals and businesses begin the process of recovery. They are not intended to make people financially whole from the damage they suffered. They are, in the words of FEMA Director James Lee Witt, "a hand up, not a handout."
Below are examples of the kinds of damage people in New Castle County may have suffered, and what kinds of assistance FEMA and other federal and state programs may offer for each example. In practice, each case is treated individually, and every situation is different. But all the programs are reached by a single phone call. Any individual or business that suffered injury, physical damage, or economic damage from the storm and floods can find out what assistance may be available by calling 1-800-462-9029 (or TTY 1-800-462-7585 for the speech- and hearing-impaired), 7 a.m. to midnight seven days a week.
Home damaged - Insured
Suppose a homeowner has damage to her property, but flood insurance covers all the expenses that are necessary to make it habitable. During the few days that the home was uninhabitable, she was able to stay with friends. Because she has no uninsured emergency expenses, she is not eligible for any emergency grant from FEMA. For losses not covered by insurance, she may be eligible for a low-interest loan from the Small Business Administration (SBA) to help her repair/replace her disaster-damaged real estate and personal property to its predisaster condition.
Home damaged - Underinsured
Suppose another homeowner also has flood insurance that covers the cost of repairs to his home, and the contents as well. However, he has had to move out of the building for two months while the repairs are made, and the policy does not cover the cost of the rent. He will probably be able to get a grant from FEMA to cover the rent.
Home damage - Not Insured
Perhaps a third homeowner has several thousand dollars in damage to her property, but does not have flood insurance. She will probably be able to get a grant from FEMA to cover the necessary costs to make it safe and livable. (Homeowners who have already started repairs should save their receipts, along with photos or other proof of the damage.) She also may be eligible for a low-interest loan from the Small Business Administration (SBA) to help her repair/replace her disaster-damaged real estate and personal property to its predisaster condition.
Suppose an apartment building was damaged, and the renters had to move out. The renters may be able to get a grant from FEMA to cover one month of rent at a new location. Each case can be reviewed on an individual basis to see if the rental assistance should be extended beyond one month. Renters are also eligible to apply for a low-interest loan from the SBA to repair/replace their personal property.
The owner of the apartment complex may have protected himself through flood insurance on the building. Whether he does or not, he cannot receive a grant from FEMA for repairs to the building. It is treated as a business. He may be able to get a low-interest loan from the SBA for repair costs and loss of rents that were not covered by insurance.
Suppose someone was injured by the storms, although she received no damage to either her home or her business. If insurance does not cover all the cost of her treatment, she may be eligible for a state grant to cover those expenses.
Suppose someone's car was damaged by the flooding, and his insurance does not cover the loss. He may be eligible for a low-interest loan by the SBA so he can repair or replace his car. If he does not qualify fo...