HELENA, Mont. -- If you sustained damage in the storms and floods that hit Montana from April 4 to July 22, circle September 26 on your calendar. That's the deadline to register for individual assistance if you sustained damage.
"We cannot overemphasize how important it is for Montanans to register," said Ed Tinsley, Montana Disaster and Emergency Services Administrator. "Registering with FEMA could open the door to assistance for the different types of losses Montanans suffered during this disaster."
President Barack Obama declared a major disaster declaration for the state of Montana on June 17. Now a total of 31 counties and four reservations are eligible for individual assistance.
Blaine, Broadwater, Carter, Chouteau, Fallon, Flathead, Golden Valley, Madison, Park, Phillips, Pondera, Powell, Rosebud, Toole, Wibaux and the Fort Peck Reservation were added to the federal disaster declaration Wednesday. Montanans in these added locations have the same deadline, September 26, to register for assistance.
To date, more than 1,860 Montana individuals and families have registered with FEMA, and nearly $3.8 million has been approved for Individual Assistance grants from the state and FEMA.
FEMA's Individual Assistance program includes a wide range of help, including emergency home repair, temporary disaster housing, replacement grants for serious disaster-related needs and expenses not covered by insurance or other assistance programs. For those insured, the government may help pay for basic needs not covered by insurance.
When a homeowner or renter applies to FEMA for assistance, an inspection of the damaged premises is scheduled, which usually takes place within 48 hours. If assistance is approved, it takes approximately seven to 10 days for the money to reach the registrant. Recipients of assistance can choose electronic fund transfer directly to their bank accounts, which speeds up the process.
Officials urge Montanans to register and let FEMA determine if the loss and damage qualify for assistance. Flood damage sometimes does not become apparent until time has passed.
Assistance may include FEMA grants for temporary housing and home repairs, low-interest Small Business Administration (SBA) disaster loans to cover losses not fully compensated by insurance or other recoveries, and other programs to help homeowners, renters and business owners recover from the effects of the disaster.
"Survivors living in designated counties will cheat themselves out of possible federal or state assistance if they don't move quickly to register with FEMA," said Doug Mayne, Helena-based FEMA Federal Coordinating Officer. "Registering is the necessary first step."
To register for assistance or check on their registration status, residents can go online to www.disasterassistance.gov, via web-enabled phone at m.fema.gov, or call 1-800-621-3362. FEMA phone lines are open from 5 a.m. to 8 p.m., seven days a week; multilingual operators are available. If you have a speech disability or hearing loss and use a TTY, call 1-800-462-7585.
Flooding recovery update -- total assistance over $21.6 million
Assistance for flood-related damages has reached over $21.6 million in Montana. To date, more than $17.8 million in grants are being processed for payment to eligible Public Assistance (PA) applicants, which include governmental entities and certain private nonprofit organizations that provide critical services. This is in addition to the nearly $3.8 million for Individual Assistance.
FEMA Public Assistance funds are available to Montana communities through a partnership of cost sharing. "FEMA picks up not less than 75-percent of the eligible cost of the project, and the state and the applicant share the remaining portion," Ma...