AUSTIN, Texas -- Residents and business owners in 22 Texas counties affected by extreme wildfires have only one week left to apply for assistance from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security's Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). Damage must have been incurred between Nov. 27, 2005 and May 14, 2006 to be eligible for any of FEMA's programs.
Applicants can register online or by calling FEMA toll-free at 1-800-621-FEMA (3362) or TTY 1-800-462-7585 . Assistance is available in multiple languages. Hours are 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. Central Daylight Time. The deadline for registration is May 30.
May 30 is also the deadline to apply for low-interest loans from the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA). The SBA provides loans for qualified residences and businesses affected by the wildfires. SBA applicants who are homeowners or renters first must register with FEMA and obtain a FEMA registration ID number, but businesses may apply directly to the SBA for possible disaster assistance.
Loans are also available for economic injury due to loss of business. Information and forms are available online.
The most common form of housing help from FEMA is rental assistance. Other assistance may include grants to help with minor home repairs; grants to replace furniture and personal property not covered by insurance; money for necessary expenses and serious needs, such as funeral expenses, caused by the disaster.
The federal disaster declaration made FEMA's Individuals and Household Program available to affected individuals and businesses in Anderson, Bastrop , Caldwell , Callahan, Cooke, Deaf Smith, Eastland, Erath, Gray, Guadalupe, Hood, Hutchinson, Johnson, Kerr, Montague, Palo Pinto, Parker, Potter, Roberts, Tarrant, Wheeler and Wise counties.
FEMA manages federal response and recovery efforts following any national incident. FEMA also initiates mitigation activities, works with state and local emergency managers, and manages the National Flood Insurance Program. FEMA became part of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security on March 1, 2003.