BURLINGTON, Vt. -- Having water and muck in your house is an unpleasant experience, but federal officials say they may be to able to help with clean-up and other, not immediately apparent, problems that resulted from this spring's flooding.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency is reminding Vermonters who suffered damages to their homes as the result of rains and flooding earlier this year that there may be additional financial assistance to remove household debris.
"Vermont residents may have had to dispose of piles of wet carpeting, crumbling sheetrock, and moldy personal property as they tried to restore their dwellings to safe, sanitary and functional condition after the spring floods," said FEMA's Federal Coordinating Officer Craig Gilbert.
"If FEMA assistance included a grant for household debris removal, and if that money was insufficient to alleviate the problem, applicants should call 800-621-3362 or visit a Disaster Recovery Center to see if they are eligible for additional funds," Gilbert said.
In some cases, the amount of household debris -- measured in square yards -- may have been underestimated by the inspection report.
Federal grants should be used for the purposes described in correspondence from FEMA and receipts should be kept to document how funds were used.
Vegetative debris from fallen trees or uprooted shrubbery may be eligible for removal if it is blocking entrances or exits to the home or if it prevents emergency vehicles from gaining access to a home on a private road.
Officials are also reminding residents who suffered flooding to check their furnaces for damage.
"Most people are not thinking about their furnaces during the summer, but they need to know the extent of any damage now," said Vermont Emergency Management Director Mike O'Neil. "Residents have 60 days from the date of their eligibility letter from FEMA to report unresolved problems with their heating systems."
A FEMA inspection may lead to funding for cleaning and testing; repairing and testing; or replacement of the heating system.
It is important to ascertain whether the FEMA grant made the heating system functional and to contact FEMA immediately if it did not. Again, anyone with questions should call 800-621-FEMA or visit a Disaster Recovery Center. Currently, there are centers located in Barre; St. Johnsbury; and Colchester.
To find the nearest open center to you, log on to www.fema.gov/drclocator.
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). Those with a speech disability or hearing loss who use a TTY may call 1-800-462-7585 directly; or call 1-800-621-3362 if using 711 or Video Relay Service (VRS).
FEMA's temporary housing assistance and grants for public transportation expenses, 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.
SBA disaster loan information and application forms may be obtained by calling the SBA's Customer Service Center at 800-659-2955 (800-877-8339 for people with speech or hearing disabilities) Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. ET or by sending an e-mail to email@example.com. Applications can also be downloaded from www.sba.gov or completed on-line at disasterloan.sba.gov/ela/.
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