AUSTIN, Texas ? The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has distributed to Texans affected by Hurricane Ike more than $466 million for housing assistance and to help pay for other disaster-related expenses. Officials from the Texas Governor?s Division of Emergency Management and FEMA caution recipients to use their funds wisely and for the purposes intended.
Distributed by check or direct deposit, funds for housing and other needs assistance are intended to help residents meet basic disaster-related needs, replace losses in personal property and begin rebuilding their lives. ?If an applicant uses payments on anything other than what the funds are intended for, the applicant might not be able to receive future disaster assistance or may have to repay funds.
Disaster assistance may include grants to help pay for minimal temporary repairs on damaged homes, temporary housing, or other serious disaster-related expenses not covered by insurance or other sources. Some designated payments may be issued to cover losses for household items, disaster-related medical expenses or other disaster-related needs or losses. A letter explaining a payment?s purpose will arrive within a day or two of the check or direct deposit payment.
Grant recipients are urged to keep receipts of their disaster spending for three years to demonstrate how the money was used to meet disaster-related needs. They are required to sign a declaration and a release certifying all funds will be spent for their intended purposes. If a recipient receives an insurance settlement to cover the same expenses, he or she must reimburse FEMA. Random audits may be done to confirm funds were spent properly.
The deadline to register with FEMA for assistance is Feb. 6. Texans who had damage or uninsured losses and have not yet registered can do so online at www.fema.gov or by calling 1-800-621-FEMA (3362), (TTY) 1-800-462-7585 for the speech- and hearing-impaired. Both numbers are available 6 a.m. to midnight daily. A listing of recovery centers is available at www.txdps.state.tx.us/dem/pages/dr1791_drc_list.htm
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.