Miami, FL -- After meeting the immediate needs of South Floridians for emergency housing and home repairs after the early October rains, disaster recovery officials are now focusing on state and federal programs that provide direct grants to individuals and families who suffered uninsured losses to dwellings or personal property.
Through the Federal Emergency Management Agency's (FEMA's) Individual and Family Grant (IFG) program, a safety net is provided for people who have exhausted all other means of assistance and still have uninsured disaster-related expenses they can't meet. The program provides for needs beyond those involving emergency housing needs.
Justo Hernandez, the federal coordinating officer for the disaster recovery, reminded residents, "Federal and state programs can't restore things to the way they were before the storms. But they can help people begin to rebuild their lives."
Here are the most common questions and answers about the program.
Q. Who can get an Individual and Family Grant?
A. Individuals who incurred uninsured or underinsured losses in the storms may be required to fill out an application for a loan from the U. S. Small Business Administration (SBA). If, for whatever reason, the person is ineligible for a loan, the SBA may refer the application to the IFG program for consideration. Even if qualified, a person is not required to accept the SBA loan. Applicants with medical, dental, funeral and certain other disaster-related expenses may be referred to the program immediately upon completing FEMA's initial toll-free registration process.
Q. How much are the grant awards?
A. Grant sizes vary depending on applicants' needs. The average grant nationally is about $2,500. The maximum IFG award is $14,400.
Q. What are some specific items the grant program might help me pay for?
A. A grant may help pay to fix or replace furniture, appliances and other essential goods. The grants may also help flood victims pay for moving and storage expenses, sandbagging and mobile home towing relating to the flood.
Q. What won't the grants help me pay for?
A. Grants won't help people pay for improvements or additions to real or personal property, recreational property, luxury or decorative items, or business/self-employment expenses.
Q. Can the grants help me repair my vehicle or buy another one if the flooding makes it unrepairable?
A. Yes. The grant may provide money to repair or replace necessary vehicles that had no comprehensive insurance or were otherwise underinsured.
Q. Who administers and pays for the program?
A. The state of Florida administers the program and pays 25 percent of the cost. FEMA pays 75 percent of the cost.
Q. What does the program require from applicants?
A. The applicant may be asked to provide verification of expenditures for medical, dental, funeral, transportation and other disaster-related costs.
Q. Are the casualty losses incurred in the disaster tax deductible?
A. The Internal Revenue Service provides free federal income tax information and tax preparation for disaster victims. Certain casualty losses may be deductible.
Q. How do you apply for any of these federal/state programs?
A. You begin the process by calling the toll-free registration number that triggers your application for all federal and state disaster aid. The number is 1-800-462-9029. For the speech or hearing impaired, it is 1-800...