BEVERLY, Mass. -- The federal coordinating officer in charge of recovery from April's flooding expressed concern today that some residents who suffered losses may be forfeiting their ability to obtain certain forms of state and federal assistance.
James N. Russo of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) said most applicants for disaster relief receive a loan application packet from the U. S. Small Business Administration (SBA) that must be completed.
"The SBA loan application fulfills several key information needs," Russo said. "It provides the basis for obtaining a low-interest loan to pay for repairing or replacing uninsured disaster-damaged property and helps determine eligibility for grants to pay for serious needs that cannot be funded from other sources."
Russo explained if an applicant does not qualify for an SBA loan, their aid request is automatically forwarded to state/FEMA assistance specialists for further review of any unmet needs.
State Coordinating Officer Cristine McCombs said that delays in returning the loan applications often harmed individuals and households that needed help the most. "If, for whatever reason, you aren't approved for an SBA loan we will still try to help," McCombs said. "But it's not a passive process; we have to hear from you and obtain accurate information as quickly as possible."
For all state/federal programs it is necessary to sign up by calling 1-800-621-FEMA (3362). Those with hearing or speech impairments may call 1-800-462-7585 (TTY). The lines are open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday-Friday.
Businesses of all sizes may also be eligible for disaster loans to repair or replace machinery, equipment, fixtures, and inventory not covered by insurance. Eligible small businesses may also apply for working capital funds to help cover necessary and on-going expenses during the disaster recovery period.
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.