Miami, FL -- One month after the presidential declaration of Miami-Dade County as a disaster area, local residents and business owners continue rebuilding their lives and commerce. To qualify for help under various federal, state and local programs, applicants must have suffered damages directly caused by the March 27 severe storms and tornadoes. The following summarizes aid approved to date by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), and the Florida Division of Emergency Management (FDEM).
Individual assistance - Since President Bush's April 25 disaster declaration, FEMA has approved $2,914,479 in grants for temporary housing and minor home repairs and $8,506,963 for other disaster-related needs. The first checks were issued within four days of the declaration.
Housing inspections - The only damages eligible for consideration are those directly related to the March 27 events and are subject to verification by FEMA inspectors. To date, 36 inspectors assigned to Miami-Dade have completed 10,125 housing inspections. If an inspector comes to look at your home (done by appointment only), ask to see proper photo identification. There is no charge for the service.
SBA Disaster Loans - The SBA has approved $1,338,800 in low-interest disaster loans to individuals and business owners. Those who have received a loan application in the mail are urged to complete and return them to the SBA. It is necessary to complete the loan application to be eligible for other kinds of assistance. If you need help filling out your SBA loan application, visit the SBA Workshop at the Caleb Center, 5400 NW 22nd Avenue (Third Floor), Liberty City. Workshop hours are 8:00am to 5:00 pm, Monday through Friday.
Disaster Recovery Center - On April 27, a Disaster Recovery Center (DRC) opened at the Caleb Center to provide detailed information to people who had already applied for or needed assistance. Staffed by representatives from various agencies, the DRC welcomed 952 visitors from the time it opened until May 21, when its operations transitioned into the SBA Workshop.
Community Relations - For the past month, joint local/federal teams of community relations specialists have canvassed the disaster area to provide information on disaster assistance and the application process. The outreach effort included door-to-door visits to homes and business locations as well as attendance at church services and community gatherings. Special attention has been given to identifying people with special needs in the heavily damaged areas.
Volunteer organizations - Miami-Dade volunteer and religious organizations were at the forefront of the disaster relief effort. For 20 days, the local chapter of the American Red Cross provided emergency shelter to over 100 people. The volunteer and community groups have formed a committee to assist with the long-term needs of those impacted by the twisters and storms. Team Metro, 305-458-5900, makes referrals to appropriate resources that may be of help with unmet needs.
Disaster Unemployment Assistance - For those who lost work, Disaster Unemployment Assistance may be available through the State of Florida's Agency for Workforce Innovation (AWI). Apply for benefits by calling 1-800-681-8102 from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday. The last day to apply is June 1, 2003.
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