Indianapolis, IN -- In just a week since the President declared 32 counties in Indiana a major disaster area, nearly half a million dollars in disaster housing assistance grants and low-interest loans have been issued to assist those affected by the tornadoes and severe storms, state and federal officials announced today.
"This early in the recovery process our concern is for people's housing needs. For some, the housing assistance grant check is just the first check they will receive," Bill Lokey, the Federal Emergency Management Agency's (FEMA) federal coordinating officer, said.
Already 172 checks, totaling $142,287, in disaster housing grants have been distributed since the application process began on September 26. A total of 805 individuals and small business owners from the disaster-designated counties have applied for disaster assistance programs as of close of business Tuesday.
The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) has approved three low-interest loans for homeowners, totaling $357,400. The SBA has issued 514 loan applications to homeowners and renters and 82 to business owners.
"Meeting housing needs for victims of the tornadoes and severe storms is our top priority," Patrick R. Ralston, Indiana State Emergency Management (SEMA) state coordinating officer, said. "These first checks are just the beginning of the federal and state assistance that will be available to disaster victims."
Disaster housing assistance comes in the form of grants for alternate rental housing, emergency repairs needed to make a residence habitable, and mortgage or rental assistance in cases where the disaster has caused extreme economic hardship. This assistance serves as an interim solution to people's housing needs until long-term solutions are addressed, typically through insurance or loans.
Persons in the declared counties who suffered damage or loss to a home
or business in the tornadoes and severe storms on September 20 are encouraged
to apply for assistance by calling a toll-free number,
1-800-621-FEMA (3362). Those with a speech or hearing impairment should call, TTY 1-800-462-7585. Both phone lines are open between 8 a.m. and 6 p.m. (EST) daily, until further notice.
The Presidential disaster declaration makes federal and state funds available to individuals, families and business owners in Bartholomew, Blackford, Brown, Daviess, Decatur, Delaware, Fayette, Franklin, Gibson, Grant, Greene, Hamilton, Hancock, Hendricks, Henry, Jay, Johnson, Knox, Lawrence, Madison, Marion, Monroe, Morgan, Owen, Pike, Posey, Randolph, Rush, Shelby, Sullivan, Tipton and Vanderburgh counties.