BEAVER, W. Va. – State and federal disaster assistance payments and loans have provided more than $5 million in financial help to homeowners and renters in West Virginia with property losses from June flooding. Here is a breakout of funding approved through Thursday, July 29:
FEMA housing grants: $3.9 million
FEMA and West Virginia grants for essential needs: $266,000
U.S. Small Business Administration low interest loans: $879,000
The funding comes with words of advice from the State of West Virginia and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA): Use the disaster assistance money for the intended purpose. The money was approved for residents of Lewis, Logan, McDowell, Mingo and Wyoming counties to repair their homes, replace essential personal property and to use for temporary housing.
“If you spend your disaster money on anything other than the intended purpose, you’re not helping yourself in the long run,” said Jimmy Gianato, head of West Virginia flood recovery efforts.
FEMA grants cover losses that are not covered by insurance. The money may not be used to improve a home above its pre-disaster condition unless required by current building codes. Here is a primer on how to spend FEMA money correctly:
Housing – FEMA money can be used to make a damaged home safe and sanitary. It also covers temporary rent while the repairs are made. Use FEMA money to repair:
- Structural parts of your home such as foundation, outside walls, and roof
- Windows, doors, floors, walls, ceilings, cabinetry
- Septic or sewage system
- Well or other water system
- Heating, ventilating, and air conditioning system
- Utilities such as electrical, plumbing and gas systems
- Entrance and exit ways from your home including privately owned access roads
- Blocking, leveling and anchoring of a mobile home and reconnecting or resetting its sewer, water, electrical and fuel lines, and tanks.
Other than Housing Needs: Money to repair damaged personal property or to pay for disaster-related necessary expenses such as the following:
- Disaster-related medical and dental costs
- Disaster-related funeral and burial cost
- Clothing, room furnishings and appliances
- Tools and specialized or protective clothing and equipment required for your job
- Necessary educational materials such as computers, school books, and supplies
- Heating oil, gas, firewood or other fuel for primary heating system
- Clean-up items such as wet/dry vacuum, air purifier and dehumidifier
- Vehicle damaged by the disaster
- Moving and storage expenses related to the disaster
- Other necessary expenses or serious needs as determined by FEMA.
Money must be used for eligible expenses and should be used within 18 months of the June 2010 disaster declaration. FEMA and state disaster grants do not have to be repaid and are tax free. Officials caution that people who do not use their grants correctly may not be eligible for any additional help and may have to repay the money.
Here are other facts to be aware of:
- Disaster assistance grants are not counted as income or a resource in determining eligibility for welfare, income assistance or income-tested benefit programs funded by the federal government
- Disaster assistance grants are exempt from garnishment, seizure, encumbrance, levy, execution, pledge, attachment, release or waiver
- Keep receipts or bills for 3 years to show that the money was used by the intended person for the intended disaster-related need...