BOISE, Idaho -- In response to the recent federally-declared disaster, state and federal officials worked throughout the weekend to begin the process of helping Idaho residents and businesses who have been affected by the recent wildfires.
Officials with state and federal agencies met Tuesday to coordinate the disaster relief effort.
The officials stressed that residents and business owners in a number of Idaho counties who have incurred losses related to the wildfires are now eligible to apply for disaster assistance.
People in federally-declared disaster counties may be eligible for a range of programs, including temporary disaster housing assistance, low-interest loans from the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), and special unemployment assistance for people whose jobs were affected by the fires. The U.S. Department of Agriculture also has made available emergency loans to farmers and ranchers affected by the fires in the disaster counties and other counties declared as disaster counties by the Agriculture Department.
The federally-declared disaster counties are Bannock, Boise, Clearwater, Elmore, Idaho, Jerome, Lemhi, Lewis and Power Counties. The Fort Hall Indian Reservation is also a federally-declared disaster area.
People who have suffered losses should start the recovery process by calling the toll-free registration number at 1-800-462-9029. For those who are hearing- or speech-impaired, the number is 1-800-462-7585. Recovery specialists can take registrations from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. (MDT) seven a days a week.
"It's very important that people start the process as soon as possible by making that simple phone call," said Federal Coordinating Officer William Lokey.
"Everyone who feels they have been affected by the disaster - even in counties not yet declared disaster counties - should make that phone call," said John Cline, director of the Idaho Bureau of Disaster Services. "Their counties may later be made eligible for aid."
Here is a rundown of some of the disaster recovery programs available:
Temporary housing grants
The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) can provide temporary housing assistance for those with disaster-related damage to homes. Eligible applicants may receive grants to reimburse temporary lodging costs. If their homes can be made safe and livable with minor repairs, applicants may receive grants to cover the costs of necessary repairs.
The SBA is offering federal disaster loans to owners of private property. Homeowners may borrow up to $200,000 to repair or replace damaged or destroyed real estate. Homeowners and renters are eligible to borrow up to $40,000 to repair or replace damaged or destroyed personal property.
Businesses of any size may borrow up to $1.5 million to repair or replace damaged or destroyed real estate, machinery and equipment, inventory, and other business assets. Small businesses only may apply for Economic Injury Disaster Loans of up to $1.5 million to help pay their fixed debts, payroll, accounts payable, and other bills that can't be paid because of the disaster's impact.
Disaster unemployment assistance
Disaster Unemployment Assistance is available for anyone who finds they are unemployed as a direct result of the declared disaster and that they either worked in, lived in, or had to travel through one of the declared counties or areas. Individuals who are not entitled to regular unemployment insurance, but are out of work due to the disaster, may be eligible for weekly benefits. People should contact their local Job Service office to determine their eligibility.
The United States Department of Agriculture also has programs available for disaster relief: