St. Paul, MN -- State and federal disaster officials are concerned that people who suffered damage during the spring storms and flooding are delaying their recovery efforts by waiting to apply for programs available under the declaration issued by President Bush on May 16th.
At the close of business on Wednesday, May 23, only 374 people applied for disaster assistance by calling 1 800 462--9029 (TTY 1 800 462--7585), according to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).
"We know from working with the Minnesota Division of Emergency Management that people suffered damage affecting their health and safety," James Roche, FEMA coordinating officer, said. "And there are federal and state disaster assistance programs designed to help victims meet emergency needs."
"Even if you previously received assistance in another disaster, we urge you to call. Don't pre--judge your eligibility," Roche said.
So far, $127,000 has been distributed in temporary housing assistance. These disaster grants help people with essential repairs to make their homes livable, such as replacing or repairing furnaces and water heaters, replacing water--damaged drywall, and repairing damaged plumbing. This assistance will not bring people's lives back to their pre--disaster conditions; it's meant to help people get on their feet for the long road to recovery.
"Understanding the steps of the federal/state recovery process can help people reduce the confusion brought on by disaster, sort out the information available, and make the decisions required to begin rebuilding their lives," Kevin Leuer, state coordinating officer and director, Minnesota Division of Emergency Management, said. "Applying for disaster assistance just takes one phone call."
The Assistance Process
- The only way to apply for federal/state assistance is to call the toll--free number at 1 800 462--9029 (TTY 1 800 462--7585).
- You will be asked general information about your income, your insurance and how badly your residence or business was damaged. You should give details about your housing needs.
- Within a few days, a FEMA inspector will call you to make an appointment to visit your damaged home or apartment.
- If you qualify for the FEMA disaster--housing program, within approximately one week after your inspection you may get a check and separate letter explaining how you may use the check. You may get checks from other programs later. Electronic money transfers are now available and speed up the assistance process.
The SBA Process
- The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) is the primary source of long--term disaster recovery loans for homeowners, renters, and businesses of all sizes. An SBA goal is to return you to your pre--flood condition.
- The SBA may send you a loan packet after you make that first call to 1 800 462--9029, (TTY 1 800 462--7585) to apply. It is very important to complete this packet and return it.
- If the SBA determines you cannot repay a loan, your name may then be forwarded for consideration under the Individual and Family Grant Program. If you do not fill out and turn in the SBA application, then you cannot be referred to the IFG program, regardless of additional needs.
This Press Release Was Updated on 06/28/05