INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. -- Nearly 900 Indiana residents have applied for disaster assistance to date and more than $1.4 million has been approved for eligible applicants. Officials want to make sure no one is overlooked.
Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), Indiana Department of Homeland Security (IDHS) and U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) officials are enlisting the help of area residents to ensure everyone is aware that disaster assistance is available.
So far the agencies have used television, radio, newspapers, Internet, flyers and door-to-door visits to get the word out. By using the Tell-Your-Neighbor campaign, they now are getting the public involved by notifying their neighbors that they may be eligible to receive federal disaster help.
"We're hoping the public will help us spread the message," said FEMA Federal Coordinating Officer Regis Phelan. "Take a few moments to call or knock on your neighbors' doors to see if they have applied with FEMA and the SBA."
"Disasters tend to bring out the best in people, so we're confident the public will help speed the recovery by talking to their neighbors and relatives," said IDHS Executive Director Joseph Wainscott, Jr.
Severe storms, tornadoes and flooding from March 8-14 affected many Indiana neighborhoods. President Obama declared 13 counties federal disaster areas for Individual Assistance; this opened the door for federal funds to assist homeowners, renters and business owners in recovery. Three more counties were added on May 13.
FEMA Housing Assistance grants cover rental assistance, home repairs and replacement of essential household items not covered by insurance. The objective is to make damaged dwellings safe, sanitary and functional. Other Needs Assistance grants may be available to replace personal property and help meet medical, dental, funeral, transportation and other serious disaster-related needs not covered by insurance or other federal, state and charitable-aid programs.
Eligible residents affected by these storms and flooding should apply as soon as possible by calling the toll-free registration number at 1-800-621-FEMA (3362). Speech- or hearing-impaired individuals may call TTY 1-800-462-7585. Individuals also can apply for disaster assistance at the FEMA Web site www.disasterassistance.gov.
The SBA offers low-interest disaster loans to homeowners, renters, businesses of all sizes and private nonprofit organizations for losses not fully covered by insurance. The SBA may lend up to $200,000 to repair or replace homes and up to $40,000 to repair or replace personal property. Also, up to $2 million is available for businesses for their uncompensated disaster losses.
For more information about SBA, call the SBA Customer Service Center from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. (EDT) Monday through Friday, and 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. (EDT), Saturday, at 1-800-659-2955 for information and assistance. Victims may apply online at disasterloan.sba.gov/ela/. Applicants also may visit the SBA Web site at www.sba.gov/services/disasterassistance or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
Officials want to encourage those residents who may be hesitant to register for disaster assistance. This is not charity; this is federal taxpayer money set aside specifically for disaster assistance. Also, the assistance one individual may receive will not take away from another applicant's federal assistance funds.
Although the assistance process may continue after the deadline, June 22 will be the last day to call or go online to apply for FE...