Chicago, IL -- Just 10 days after President Clinton signed a disaster declaration which made seven counties in southern Ohio eligible for federal assistance, more than a quarter of a million dollars in disaster housing grants and low-interest loans have been approved for some of the more than 600 residents and business owners, who have called to apply for assistance.
The initial grants from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), totaling $246,413 for 140 applicants, provide assistance for individuals and families whose primary homes were damaged or destroyed. The grants are designed to cover temporary rental assistance or essential emergency repairs, and are non-taxable funds that do not have to be repaid.
Earlier this week, the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) handed out $30,000 in low-interest loans to three families to help them begin to recover from the damages caused by the flash flooding, which occurred from Feb. 18 to March 2.
State and federal disaster officials indicated that these totals would continue to increase as more applications are processed. "The sooner that people call to apply, the sooner their damages can be verified, and the sooner they receive assistance for their eligible losses," Brad Gair, FEMA Federal Coordinating Officer, said.
Open On Saturday
Both SBA Disaster Assistance Offices will be open this Saturday to allow applicants to sit down and talk face-to-face with FEMA recovery specialists or SBA loan officers. Once you have called to apply, you are welcome to visit the most convenient office to answer any questions that you may have about the recovery process. The offices are open from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. These offices are only temporary and applicants are urged to visit as soon as possible.
The offices are located at the New Boston Community Center, 3980 Rhodes Ave, and the Gallia County 911 Call Center (basement), 1191 State Route 160, in Gallipolis.
Low-Interest SBA Loan Packets
It is important for applicants, who received SBA disaster loan packets, to complete and return them as soon as possible to speed up the recovery process. If the SBA application is not returned it may delay other forms of disaster assistance. Filing an SBA loan application in no way obligates the applicant to accept a loan.
If the SBA determines that an applicant is unable to repay a loan for whatever reason, the applicant will automatically be referred to the Individual and Family Grant (IFG) Program. Administered by the state, the program provides grants to individuals and families to meet serious disaster-related needs and expenses not covered by insurance or other federal, state, or voluntary agency disaster assistance programs. FEMA provides 75 percent of the funds for the IFG grants and the state covers the remaining 25 percent.
More Than 600 Call To Apply
Forty-nine residents called to apply for disaster assistance on yesterday, bringing the total to 613. Assistance is available for homeowners, renters, and business owners. FEMA's toll-free application number is 1-800-462-9029, and for the speech or hearing impaired 1-800-462-7585. Both numbers are available from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., Monday through Saturday, until further notice.
"That one toll-free call is your application for both state and federal disaster assistance programs," Gair said. "Even if you received assistance for the 1997 flooding or currently have an SBA low-interest loan, you may still be eligible for disaster assistance for the recent flooding."
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