Harrisburg, PA -- Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency (PEMA) and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) today announced that ten additional counties have been designated eligible for disaster aid to homeowners, renters and business owners who sustained damage from severe storms and flooding that hit Pennsylvania from July 21 to Sept. 12.
Individual Assistance is now available for Blair, Crawford, Lawrence, McKean, Mercer, Potter, Tioga, Venango, Warren and Wayne county residents under the Aug. 23 federal disaster declaration. All but Blair County were previously approved for Public Assistance to help state and local governments and certain private non-profit organizations repair damage and meet other expenses related to the storms.
"In order to help homeowners, tenants and businesses recover from this terrible disaster, the Governor requested Individual Assistance, and U. S. Small Business Administration loans available in affected areas to help repair/replace flood-damaged property," said David M. Sanko, Director of the PA Emergency Management Agency.
The designation means that residents of the newly declared counties may apply for a variety of aid that could include rental or home repair grants; U. S. Small Business Administration (SBA) low-interest loans to repair or replace storm-damaged property; or awards for serious needs and necessary expenses not met by other programs. Businesses may qualify for SBA loans only.
Residents and business owners are urged to call the toll-free registration number at 1-800-621-3362 or TTY 1-800-462-7585 for the speech- or hearing-impaired to apply for disaster aid. The lines are open from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. seven days a week until further notice. The application deadline to apply for assistance is November 18, 2003.
"Applicants may be reimbursed for repairs already completed but they should have receipts for materials or work paid for to document the work," Federal Coordinating Officer Tom Davies said.
Government disaster assistance to individuals covers basic needs only and will not normally replace all losses. If an individual has insurance, the government may help pay for basic needs not covered under their insurance policy. Most disaster financial assistance will not have to be repaid. Some help, however, may come in the form of low-interest disaster loans, which must be repaid.
"My thanks to the citizens, county, community and elected officials, who worked with PEMA's staff to acquire the information needed so that we could secure this federal assistance," said Director Sanko.
The addition brings to 11 the number of counties eligible for Individual Assistance under the August 23 presidential declaration. Lackawanna County became eligible for Individual Assistance on Sept. 19. Counties previously approved for Public Assistance include Clarion, Crawford, Forest, Lackawanna, Lawrence, Mercer, McKean, Potter, Tioga, Venango, Warren, Wayne and Wyoming. All counties in the state are eligible for Hazard Mitigation assistance.
On March 1, 2003, FEMA became part of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. FEMA's continuing mission within the new department is to lead the effort to prepare the nation for all hazards and effectively manage federal response and recovery efforts following any national incident. FEMA also initiates proactive mitigation activities, trains first responders, and manages Citizen Corps, the National Flood Insurance Program and the U.S. Fire Administration.