Federal Assistance May Be Available When Septic Systems Fail

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Release date: 
August 2, 2011
Release Number: 
1981-035

BISMARCK, N.D. - North Dakota residents whose septic systems were damaged as a result of spring flooding may be eligible for federal assistance to restore them.

Homeowners who have to move out of their homes because of septic system failure may receive septic repair or replacement assistance, and also may be eligible for rental assistance while the home is made livable. Flood insurance does not cover septic systems.

Renters may also be able to receive rental assistance while the dwelling is made livable, but costs for repair or replacement of a septic system are the responsibility of the owner of the property.

The first step for an applicant is to register with FEMA by calling the FEMA helpline, 800-621-3362 from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. CDT. The TTY number is 800-462-7585. People can also apply online at www.DisasterAssistance.gov or at m.fema.gov on a web-enabled smartphone.

Once a person has registered, an inspector will come to the house to identify damage. The inspector will record the fact that the septic system is not working. The inspector has been trained to identify broken pipes, a broken tank, or leach line failure.

After the water level recedes, FEMA may pay homeowners for pumping out the septic tank. That usually takes care of the problem unless there has been damage to the system.

If additional repairs or replacement prove to be necessary, the homeowner can choose to have the repairs made and get a verifiable receipt, or get a written estimate of repair costs including parts and labor. The receipt or estimate from a contractor needs to state that the estimate or actual cost paid is not an upgrade and that the repair was necessary to make the home habitable.

In a letter to FEMA, the applicant needs to detail the repair or replacement that is/was needed, including the receipts or written estimate with the letter. A confirmation inspection may be needed to verify the necessary work. Once FEMA has verified all the information, the cost of repairs or replacement may be paid to the applicant.

SBA offers low-interest loans to homeowners, renters, business owners and rental property owners to repair or replace disaster damages. Residents and business owners may meet with SBA disaster representatives at any Disaster Recovery Center or an SBA Business Recovery Center. Center locations and additional information is available by calling SBA at (800) 659-2955, emailing disastercustomerservice@sba.gov, or visiting SBA's Web site at www.sba.gov. Hearing impaired individuals may call TTY (800) 877-8339. Applicants may apply online at https://disasterloan.sba.gov/ela.

Last Updated: 
July 16, 2012 - 18:46
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