FRANKFORT, Ky. -- Sizable disaster assistance checks are being distributed to storm survivors in Jefferson County, and disaster officials urge recipients to handle the money carefully and spend it only for disaster-related losses.
"This is a time when people are particularly vulnerable, and financial predators are quick to take advantage of them," said Brig. Gen. John W. Heltzel, director, Kentucky Division of Emergency Management. "Caution is the operative word."
Experience shows that disposition of assistance checks inevitably causes problems for some survivors in every disaster. If funds from the Federal Emergency Management Agency are not electronically transferred, checks should be deposited in the applicant's bank account as soon as possible. Applicants should never carry large sums of cash.
"FEMA grant money is intended to help you get safe, sanitary and functional housing and meet your other critical needs so that you can begin your long-term recovery," said Michael J. Lapinski, FEMA's federal coordinating officer. "It is important to remember that disaster grant money is intended for that use."
If applicants have questions regarding their use of disaster aid, they should call FEMA's Help Desk at 800-621-FEMA (3362). The speech- or hearing-impaired should call TTY 800-462-7585.
Before starting any repairs or reconstruction, check with local building officials to determine what permits and inspections may be required. Obtaining building permits is especially important for those with homes or businesses located within an identified mapped floodplain.
The permit process ensures that homeowners are protected from unsafe building practices and illegal modifications that could cause potential injury, loss in property value, damage the local environment or conflict with local codes and regulations. Permits required by law may keep homeowners from unpleasant surprises when buying insurance, filing a claim or selling the property in the future.
Also, file insurance claims as soon as possible, remembering that if you receive money from insurance or another source for disaster losses that duplicates money from FEMA, you may be required to return all or part of the money.
FEMA's mission is to support our citizens and first responders to ensure that as a nation we work together to build, sustain, and improve our capability to prepare for, protect against, respond to, recover from, and mitigate all hazards.
Disaster recovery assistance is available without regard to race, color, religion, nationality, sex, age, disability, English proficiency or economic status. If you or someone you know has been discriminated against, call FEMA toll-free at 800-621-FEMA (3362). For TTY call 800-462-7585.
FEMA's temporary housing assistance and grants for Other Needs Assistance such as medical and dental expenses, and funeral and burial expenses do not require individuals to apply for an SBA loan. However, applicants who receive SBA loan applications must submit them to SBA loan officers to be eligible for assistance that covers personal property, vehicle repair or replacement, and moving and storage expenses.