CLINTON, Miss. -- For individuals who experienced losses in recent Mississippi flooding, there are two important steps to qualify for federal help:
Register with the Federal Emergency Management Agency, which can provide immediate rental assistance for people whose homes and apartments are unlivable.
If you receive a U.S. Small Business Administration disaster loan application, complete and return the application as soon as possible.
The SBA can provide low-interest loans to help people rebuild their lives - and some additional FEMA assistance may be available to homeowners and renters who do not qualify for a disaster loan.
FEMA Other Needs Assistance grants may be available for serious disaster-related needs not covered by insurance or other federal, state and charitable aid programs. This can include funds to help people whose personal property - clothing, furnishings or vehicle, for example - has been damaged or destroyed.
"I encourage everyone who receives an SBA loan application to fill it out," said MEMA Director Mike Womack. "They may be eligible to receive assistance that can help them put their lives back together."
Michael L. Parker, the federal official in charge of FEMA's response to recent flooding in the state, reminds disaster victims that SBA loans are not just for businesses.
"It's important for people to understand that filling out the SBA disaster loan application can result in FEMA grants for people who do not qualify for loans," Parker said.
SBA offers loans to cover damaged or destroyed real estate not fully compensated by insurance - up to $200,000 for primary residence and up to $40,000 for personal property for homeowners and renters. SBA can lend additional money for mitigation.
SBA also offers business property and working capital loans of up to $1.5 million for losses not fully compensated by insurance. The SBA disaster loan program offers interest rates as low as 2.75 percent for homeowners and renters and 4 percent for businesses.
To contact the SBA, call 1-800-659-2955 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. (EDT) Monday through Friday.
NOTE: Not every FEMA registrant receives a loan application. Homeowners and renters with insufficient income to repay loans go directly into the FEMA system for grants.
FEMA coordinates the federal government's role in preparing for, preventing, mitigating the effects of, responding to, and recovering from all domestic disasters, whether natural or man-made, including acts of terror.