LINCOLN, Neb. -- Nebraskans who received funds to help them recover from losses caused by recent storms and tornadoes are reminded by the Nebraska Emergency Management Agency and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to use the money as intended.
"We realize people may be tempted to buy things the grant or loan was not intended for because they are trying to get back on their feet right away," said State Coordinating Officer Cindy Newsham, "But that?s not wise. No one wants to have to pay back a grant or lose the possibility of help in the future because they misused funds."
Grants are randomly selected for audit. Expenditures should be documented by getting receipts or bills and keeping them in a safe place for at least three years recovery officials said.
Housing assistance funds may be used for:
- Repairs to return the home to a safe and functional condition ? these may include repairs to windows, doors, water and ventilation systems or other structural parts of a home.
- Reimbursement for hotel or motel lodging expenses directly related to the disaster ?receipts for these expenses will be requested.
- Short-term housing ? applicants who must remain in temporary housing for a longer period than the check covers may request more assistance until their home can be re-occupied or other permanent housing arrangements can be made.
Funds to assist with other needs may be used for:
- Medical, dental and funeral expenses;
- Personal property, specialized tools for employment, household items, appliances, vehicle repair or transportation costs and other serious needs.
"Our job is to contribute to the well-being of the disaster survivor by making grants available," said Federal Coordinating Officer Willie Nunn. "At the same time we have to be good stewards of taxpayer funds."
State/FEMA officials said the deadline to register for assistance for the May 22 - June 24 storms, tornadoes and flooding is August 19, 2008. Nebraskans who had losses and live, work or do business in one of the designated counties can apply. The counties are Buffalo, Butler, Colfax, Custer, Dawson, Douglas, Gage, Hamilton, Jefferson, Kearney, Lancaster, Platte, Richardson, Sarpy and Saunders. The toll-free teleregistration number to call is 1-800-621-FEMA (3362) or TTY 1-800-462-7585 for people with hearing or speech impairment.
FEMA manages federal response and recovery efforts following any national incident, initiates mitigation activities and manages the National Flood Insurance Program. FEMA works closely with State and local emergency managers, law enforcement personnel, firefighters, and other first responders.