Portsmouth, OH -- Two disaster assistance offices, established to help those with flooding damages in seven southern Ohio counties, will close next Thursday, March 30, but federal assistance is still only a toll-free call away. Almost $800,000 in federal grants and low-interest loans have been approved for 267 applicants eligible for disaster assistance.
The temporary 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. Both offices will be open Monday through Saturday from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m., and close on Thursday, March 30.
The assistance process begins with a single toll-free phone call, 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. The deadline to apply for disaster assistance is May 6th.
"After you have called to apply, applicants are urged to visit the most convenient office to sit down and talk face-to-face with a Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) recovery specialist or receive assistance with a low-interest loan application from the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA)," Brad Gair, FEMA's Federal Coordinating Officer said.
FEMA specialists will only be available in the offices through Saturday March 25. "Approximately 100 Ohioans have visited our offices and the number of applicants have now started to taper off," Gair said. "That is usually the signal that people understand the application process and are receiving all the necessary assistance."
Even after the assistance offices close, disaster assistance is still only a phone call away. Those who have already called to apply may check on the status of their application or to update information by calling the toll-free FEMA Helpline. Applicants may call 1-800-525-0321 from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., Monday through Saturday.
Federal Funds Approach $800,000
FEMA disaster housing grants totaling $475,014 have been approved for 267 applicants. A total of 714 residents have applied for assistance. These grants are designed to cover temporary rental assistance or essential emergency repairs, and are non-taxable funds that do not have to be repaid.
Another $61,485 has also been approved for 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.
The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) has already approved $254,700 for 13 low-interest loans. Eleven of the home loans are in Scioto County and two were for residents of Pike County.
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 be automatically referred to the IFG Program.
State and federal disaster officials warn residents to ask to see identification from anyone stating that they are a federal damage inspector or verifier. There is no charge for FEMA or SBA inspections and they do not recommend contractors. All government inspectors and verifiers carry photo identification. Call your local law enforcement officials to report any person who cannot show proper ...