Helena, MT -- Individuals and businesses affected by the wildfires that began July 13 are urged to register for disaster assistance made available by President Clinton's declaration of Montana as a major disaster area. Disaster assistance may be available if you live or work in one of the 28 declared counties and two reservations and have property or personal belonging losses not reimbursed by insurance or have suffered economic injury as a direct or indirect result of the fires. To register call: 1-800-745-0243 or (TTY 1-800-462-7585 for the speech- and hearing impaired.)
"The bottom line is, all those affected should call the number now to register for assistance," said Carlos Mitchell, Federal Coordinating Officer for the disaster. "This includes those affected directly and indirectly by the severe wildfires."
"Individuals and businesses must take that first step to recovery by calling the teleregistration number as soon as possible," Mitchell added. "We can't undo all the damage caused by the fires, but if people call and register for assistance we will do everything we can to put them in touch with programs that can help them."
State Coordinating Officer Jim Greene reminded businesses that they should also call the Montana Department of Commerce at 1-406-444-3814 to report their economic losses.
"The state needs to know the economic impact of the fires, in order to creatively find more ways to help Montana businesses affected by the fires," Greene noted. "Those impacted need to call FEMA to register first and then call us to report their losses."
Programs available to help both eligible individuals and businesses recover from the wildfires include:
Homeowners and Renter Disaster Loans - U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) disaster loans of up to $200,000 may be available for the homeowner for real estate repairs. Renters and homeowners may borrow up to $40,000 to replace personal property losses.
Business Disaster Loans - Non-agricultural business owners may borrow up to $1.5 million to repair or replace damaged real estate, machinery, equipment, inventory and other business assets. Economic Injury Disaster Loans are available to eligible small businesses that suffered a substantial loss of income and need working capital to meet installments on long-term debt, accounts payable, and overhead expenses that would have been met had the disaster not occurred. Interest rates are as low as 4.00% with terms up to 30 years.
Disaster Housing Assistance - Help is available through the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) for renters and homeowners whose primary residences were damaged or destroyed and whose insurance did not cover losses. Assistance can include grants for alternate rental housing and money for emergency repairs to make a home livable.
Mortgage and Rental Assistance. Homeowners and renters facing foreclosure or eviction because of lost income caused by the recent fires may receive financial help so that they can avoid losing their homes.
Disaster Unemployment Assistance (DUA) - Those who are out of work because of the fires or forest closures, such as guides, outfitters, loggers, ranchers, farmers and others who normally do not qualify for the regular state unemployment program, such as self-employed, may be eligible for DUA. Individuals can apply for DUA beginning September 5 through October 4 by calling the Telephone Claims Center at (406) 444-2545 between 7: 30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., Monday through Friday.
Crisis Counseling - FEMA is funding a crisis-counseling program to help individuals and families adjust to the stress and disruption to their lives caused by the wildfires such as evacuations on short notice, unexpectedly being unable to get home, working long hours on fire lines, and a threatened or destroyed livelihood. Crisis counseling can be reached at 1-800-237-50...