RICHMOND, Va. -- Virginia residents in Bland, Buchanan, Giles, Smyth or Tazewell counties and the city of Galax whose wells or septic systems were damaged as a result of the November 18-19 severe storms and floods, may be eligible for financial assistance from the Department of Homeland Security's Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to complete necessary repairs.
Homeowners in declared areas may be eligible for grant funding to pump septic tanks, perform required repairs or replace the system as needed. Damaged private wells that are the sole source of water for the home also may be repaired or decontaminated.
"We don't want anyone living in a house with contaminated water or exposed to raw sewage," said FEMA Federal Coordinating Officer Lou Botta. "Applicants for state and federal disaster assistance should advise the FEMA inspector that they have a private well and septic system."
Home-repair grants are designed to restore the home to a safe and sanitary condition. To qualify for this disaster assistance, applicants must own their home and the home must be their primary residence. Grants are not intended to restore a home to pre-disaster condition and cannot be used for cosmetic repairs or repairs covered by insurance.
Any Virginia resident in a disaster-declared locality who suffered damage or losses from the recent severe storms and flooding can register for disaster assistance by calling the FEMA toll-free registration number 1-800-621-FEMA (3362) or (TTY) 1-800-462-7585 for those with hearing or speech impairments. Phone lines are open from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., Monday through Saturday. (The registration phone lines will be closed on December 25 and 26.)
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 the National Flood Insurance Program and the U.S. Fire Administration.