Denver, CO -- The impact of the wildfire disaster on Colorado residents may be so great that their needs exceed the help available through insurance, government and volunteer programs.
The Individual and Family Grant (IFG) program is part of the overall disaster assistance effort triggered by a presidential disaster declaration. It was created to provide people, impacted by disasters, the necessary expenses and serious needs that cannot be met through insurance or other forms of disaster assistance, including low-interest loans from the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA).
The first checks from the Colorado Department of Human Services for the IFG program have already been sent to victims of the Colorado fires.
Ten checks totaling $97,453 were mailed out this week. Five of the checks were written for the maximum allowable grant of $14,800 per applicant. (The average grant in Colorado is currently $9,745). Of the 10 checks written, five were for real property losses and five were for personal property losses incurred as a result of the wildfires.
The IFG program is for people who have exhausted state and federal disaster assistance and still have unmet needs because of the Colorado wildfires. "We're glad this program is there for those people whose serious needs qualify them for this program," said State Coordinating Officer Tommy Grier. "These grants were designed specifically to help in such cases."
The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) provides 75 percent of the grants and the state provides the remaining 25 percent. The grants do not have to be repaid, but grant recipients must keep receipts to show proper use of the funds. In most cases, grants are only available if an applicant has been denied a low-interest disaster loan from the SBA.
Homeowners and renters who register and receive an SBA loan application in the mail are encouraged to apply to the SBA for a low-interest disaster loan prior to receiving IFG assistance. If the SBA finds an applicant ineligible for a loan, or if the loan amount is insufficient, SBA automatically refers the applicant to the IFG program for consideration.
Under the IFG program the following items may be eligible for grant awards:
- Home repairs
- Repair or replacement of personal property
- Medical personal property
- Essential tools required for work that the employer does not furnish
- Medical, dental or funeral expenses
FEMA representatives perform damage inspections and provide estimates to the state for real and personal property losses. Families do not have to provide real or personal property estimates or receipts, but are asked to document expenditures for medical, dental, funeral and transportation needs.
Recovery officials point out that individuals must begin the process by registering for disaster assistance through the registration number at 1-800-621-FEMA (3362) or TTY: 1-800-462-7585 for hearing or speech-impaired individuals. The lines are operational from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily.