HARRISBURG, Pa. -- If you're among thousands of Pennsylvanians putting lives and property back in order because of flooding, you may have questions about the help available to you under three disaster declarations made by President Clinton last month.
Berks, Bucks, Chester, Delaware, Lancaster, Montgomery, Philadelphia and York counties are under a disaster declaration because of the Hurricane Floyd storm on Sept.16. Dauphin, Lycoming, Northumberland, Snyder and Union counties are recovering from floods because of Tropical Depression Dennis over Labor Day weekend. McKean and Juniata counties were declared eligible for disaster assistance after severe storms and flooding Aug. 20 and 21.
Jack Schuback, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) coordinating officer for the disaster recovery effort in Pennsylvania, provides these answers to some frequently asked questions.
Q. I received a FEMA check for flood damage but my insurance company covered the repairs. What should I do with the FEMA check?
A. You may not take repair money from your insurance company and from FEMA for the same damages. That's called "duplication of benefits." If the money you receive from insurance is for the same damages, you must return the federal assistance to the address on the top of the FEMA letter you received. If you're not sure, you can call the FEMA Helpline at 1-800-525-0321. The number for speech- or hearing-impaired persons is 1-800-462-7585 (TTY).
Q. I need help fixing flood damage at my house but I don't think I'm eligible for a U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) loan. Should I fill out the SBA form anyway?
A. Yes. Fill out the SBA loan application and return it to the address on the packet. If SBA determines you are not eligible for a loan, your case may be referred to the Individual and Family Grant (IFG) program. You do not need to apply separately to the IFG program.
Q. My family and I had to move to a motel because our house was flooded. Can I get reimbursement for the cost of the room?
A. You may be eligible for reimbursement based on daily rental and lodging costs. If you have been found eligible for FEMA Disaster Housing Assistance, send your receipts to the address on the FEMA letter that explained your eligibility. FEMA will not reimburse for food, laundry or phone calls while you are in the hotel or motel.
Q. The inspector checked my house, but after he left, my furnace stopped working. What should I do?
A. If you feel you had additional damage, which the inspector did not address, you may write an appeal letter and include estimates and receipts and mail the letter to the address provided in the FEMA letter. You can also call the FEMA Helpline at 1-800-525-0321 and explain your situation. The telephone number for speech- and hearing-impaired applicants is 1-800-462-7585 (TTY).
If you made repairs for the additional damage, you will need to make your receipts available for review. If another inspection is necessary, FEMA will contact you.