Denver, CO -- Individuals and business owners affected by the wildfires in 56 counties and two Indian reservations are urged to register for disaster assistance made available by President Bush's declaration. Disaster assistance from the state of Colorado and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) may be available to residents who have property or personal belonging losses not reimbursed by insurance as a result of the fires. To register call toll-free 1-800-621-FEMA (3362), or 1-800-462-7585 (TTY) for the hearing and speech impaired. Operators will be available from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. MDT seven days a week until further notice.
"This is unprecedented. This is the first time Colorado has received a disaster declaration as a result of wildfire," said Director of the Colorado Office of Emergency Management Tom Grier. "Our experience with wildfires this year is an excellent example of how mitigation measures are essential with the continued development in Colorado's forested areas -- what we call the wildland-urban interface zones."
"We know a lot of people are hurting out there," said Federal Coordinating Officer Steve Emory. "If the wildfires caused your home to be damaged or destroyed, if you were evacuated for more than five days and don't have insurance to cover the cost, if you've lost your job, or if you have uninsured medical bills, call and register for assistance. Don't rule yourself out. By giving us a call, we can determine what you may be eligible for."
Those impacted by the fires may be eligible for one or more disaster assistance programs which includes:
- Temporary Housing Assistance
- Low-interest loans for homeowners, renters and business owners for uninsured and underinsured property loss or damage
- Business owners can also apply for an Economic Injury Disaster Loan
- Individual and family grants may be made to meet disaster-related serious needs or necessary expenses not covered by other assistance programs or insurance.
- Reimbursement for hotels or motels required for those under mandatory evacuation from their homes for more than five days if they do not have insurance coverage
- Disaster legal assistance
The Temporary Housing Assistance program assures that people whose homes are damaged by disaster have a safe place to live until repairs can be completed. Temporary housing assistance includes: home repair assistance, rental assistance, lodging reimbursement, and referral to other housing programs. These programs are designed to provide funds for expenses that are not covered by insurance.
The other primary form of disaster assistance for residents who have major losses are low-interest loans from the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA).
A homeowner, renter and/or personal-property owner, may apply to SBA for a low-interest loan to help recover from the fires. If the SBA determines the applicant is ineligible for a loan, or if the loan amount is insufficient, the applicant may be referred to the Individual and Family Grant program.
These grants may be used to cover disaster-related expenses such as essential home repairs, replacement of personal property, clothing, household items, furnishings and appliances, transportation, or equipment rental. The grants do not have to be repaid, but grant recipients must keep their receipts to show proper use of the funds.
Applicants who are issued an SBA loan application must complete the form, otherwise the disaster registration process stops and the applicant becomes ineligible for further federal and state disaster assistance.