ATLANTA – When individuals apply for federal and state disaster assistance, there may be an expectation that disaster recovery programs will provide the money needed to recover from the damages caused by the April 27-28 storms.
Officials with Georgia Emergency Management Agency (GEMA) and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) stress that disaster programs, except for the U.S. Small Business Administration’s (SBA’s) low interest disaster loans, cannot return anyone to their pre-disaster conditions.
“Grant programs are meant to help people begin their recovery,” said Federal Coordinating Officer (FCO) Gracia Szczech. “Their purpose is to ensure that people are safely housed and to address necessary expenses and serious needs following a disaster.”
Understanding the steps of the federal/state recovery process can help people reduce the confusion brought on by disaster, sort out the information available, and make the decisions required to begin rebuilding lives.
GEMA State Coordinating Officer Charley English said, “The Other Needs Assistance (ONA) grant, which covers serious unmet needs, is only awarded for essential losses not covered by insurance or SBA disaster loans.”
SBA low-interest disaster loans cover a majority of federal disaster assistance. SBA loans can pay recovery expenses not covered by state or local programs or by private insurance and can return a survivor to pre-disaster conditions.
Homeowners approved for a disaster loan could receive the funds necessary to repair or rebuild their real estate losses, while renters and homeowners alike can replace personal property items damaged in the storms. Businesses and non-profit organizations are also eligible to apply for their disaster losses.
During disasters, emergency services – including medical, fire or evacuation – are provided by local and state first responders. Emergency needs – such as shelter, food and clothing – may be provided through Georgia Volunteer Organizations Active in Disaster agencies, the American Red Cross, Salvation Army and community-based organizations.
Even if individuals have applied for and received immediate assistance from the volunteer groups listed above, it is still necessary for them to register with FEMA for federal and state disaster assistance.
Those with damages from the storms who have yet to register for disaster assistance may do so by calling 1-800-621-FEMA (for individuals with hearing or speech disabilities, call
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.