Philadelphia, PA -- Homeowners, renters and businesses in Berks County who sustained losses in the recent mid-June floods may be eligible for a wide range of state and federal disaster aid programs resulting from a presidential disaster declaration announced July 6.
Flooding from Tropical Storm Allison and heavy rain the following week prompted President Bush to include Berks County with Bucks and Montgomery counties, which were declared on June 21. The declaration made assistance available to individuals, families, businesses, farmers and agricultural producers in the county.
Application can be made for Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and state aid by calling the FEMA toll-free registration number 1-800-462-9029. The TTY number for speech-or-impaired is 1-800-462-7585.
"All Berks County residents who sustained damage from these floods should register with FEMA, no matter where in the county they live," said Pete Martinasco, federal coordinating officer for this disaster. "This phone call is the most important step in applying for state and federal disaster assistance."
Among the disaster aid programs that may be available are:
- The Disaster Housing Assistance Program, a FEMA program, may provide assistance to any individual or family whose residence has been made uninhabitable as a result of the storms or floods. This assistance may be in the form of alternate rental housing or funds minimal repairs to make the residence livable again.
- The Individual and Family Grant Program, a FEMA program administered by the state, provides grants to make essential home repairs, replace personal property, meet medical and dental expenses, provide transportation and fund serious disaster-related needs not covered by insurance, other federal/state disaster assistance or charitable aid programs.
- Disaster Unemployment Assistance provides weekly benefit payments to persons not normally covered by unemployment insurance but who are out of work due to the disaster. Self-employed persons, farm workers, and farm and ranch owners may be eligible for this program. People unemployed due to the floods may apply at the local unemployment office.
- Low interest U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) loans are available to homeowners, renters, businesses of all sizes, and non-profit organizations. Homeowners may borrow up to $200,000 to restore or replace disaster-damaged primary residences. Homeowners and renters may borrow up to $40,000 to replace personal property. Businesses may borrow up to $1.5 million to repair damage to real estate, and to replace machinery, equipment and inventory losses not covered by insurance.
- U.S Department of Agriculture, Farm Service Agency, emergency loans are available to farmers, ranchers, and agriculture producers to cover production and property losses. The loans are limited to the amount necessary to compensate for actual losses to essential property and/or production capacity.
"We strongly urge you to call the registration number if you have physical damage or economic loss because of the storms," said Karen Critchfield, state coordinating officer with the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency. "Registration helps identify the extent of the damage and helps us assess individual and community needs."