CHARLESTON, W. Va. -- More than $1 million in disaster housing funds have been issued to West Virginians in the wake of the late July storms. State and federal officials stress that it is important for housing funds to be used only for disaster-related damages or losses.
If victims have not already made the purchase of housing materials, they should remember to save the receipts for purchases made to restore the home to its pre-disaster condition. Also, if state and federal inspectors haven’t checked the damages, receipts will help them make an accurate determination of losses.
Those persons who were affected by this disaster and have not already registered may apply for assistance immediately by calling the toll-free number, 1-800-621-FEMA (3362), between 8 a.m. and 6 p.m. seven days a week until Oct. 5. Those with speech- or hearing-impairment may call TTY 1-800-462-7585. The application deadline for applying for assistance is Oct. 5.
Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) housing assistance is intended for one of four uses only: for basic housing repairs, short-term rental assistance, reimbursement of hotel/motel expenses or replacement, which offers limited funds to replace a disaster-destroyed home:
- Repairs are intended to return the home to a safe, clean and functional condition;
- Short-term rental assistance is based on the fair market rental rates in the affected area. Applicants who must remain in temporary housing for a longer period may request more assistance until their home can be re-occupied or other permanent housing arrangements can be made. Receipts for additional rental assistance will be requested;
- Reimbursement for hotel or motel expenses are for out-of-pocket expenses directly related to the disaster. Receipts for these expenses will be requested; and
- Replacement: This type of assistance offers a limited amount of money to replace a disaster-destroyed home.
Every housing assistance request is treated individually, and each situation is different. After the applicant's information is reviewed by FEMA Human Services, a determination is made according to the applicant's need and the disaster assistance allowed by law.
In order to speed funds to eligible applicants, the U.S. Treasury Department may issue the assistance electronically. A separate letter is mailed from FEMA specifying the use of the disaster aid.
The notice of delivery of funds and letter of explanation may not necessarily arrive on the same day. All assistance provided by FEMA should be used for its intended purpose. Failure to use the tax-free money as specified may cause FEMA to recoup the money.
The letter also urges recipients to rebuild with disaster prevention in mind. Examples include raising electrical junction boxes and elevating major appliances to minimize floodwater damage.
The letter provides a FEMA Helpline for applicants with questions or the need for more information, 800-621-FEMA (3362) or 800-462-7585 (TTY) for the speech or hearing impaired.
FEMA provides disaster resistance information on the following website: http://fema.gov/library/prepandprev.shtm.
To report fraud, waste or abuse in FEMA programs call 800-323-8603.
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....