Miami, FL -- The federal coordinating officer in charge of recovery from this month's flooding disaster in South Florida expressed concern today that many people who suffered losses may be forfeiting their ability to obtain state and federal assistance.
"In a disaster, we try to meet the victims' most urgent needs with grants for alternate housing and quick home repairs," said Justo Hernandez, federal coordinating officer for recovery. "But, in the long term, in order for folks to qualify for individual and family grants to help replace real or personal property or transportation expenses, there are certain steps that they, personally, must take."
Hernandez said most applicants for disaster relief receive a loan application packet from the U. S. Small Business Administration (SBA). "Complete the application," he said, "and return it to the SBA. The SBA will review the papers and if, for whatever reason, the applicant is ineligible for an SBA loan, the application may be referred to the Individual and Family Grant Program (IFG) for consideration.
Joe Myers, coordinating officer for the State of Florida which administers the IFG program, reminded flood victims that they may refuse SBA loans at any time. "The loan application is a means to evaluate an individual's needs for further assistance. If he or she can afford the loan, they may not qualify for IFG assistance."
For all state/federal programs it is necessary to sign up by calling the FEMA toll-free teleregistration number at 1-800-462-9029. Persons with hearing or speech impairments may call 1-800-462-7585. The lines are open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. seven days a week.