BURLINGTON, Vt. -- Just three weeks after Sept. 1 -- the date Vermont received a major disaster declaration due to the effects of Tropical Storm Irene -- FEMA has approved nearly $14 million in assistance grants to individuals and families.
That includes over $13 million for housing assistance to help repair, rebuild or replace housing and for rental assistance, as well as more than $708,000 for assistance with other needs, such as replacement of personal property or medical expenses.
- 5,468 registrations have been received.
- 2,187 Vermonters have been approved for housing assistance, and 112 have received the maximum individual housing program award of $30,200. The average housing award is just under $6,000.
- 1,049 Vermonters have been approved for temporary rental assistance grants.
- There are 13 inspectors in the field and 3,360 property inspections to document damage have been completed. The turnaround time for applicants to receive inspections is just over two days.
- The U.S. Small Business Administration has issued 4,912 loan applications to homeowners and businesses in Vermont. To date a total of 345 have been returned, and 31 applications totaling $1,808,500 have been approved in low-interest loans.
Following is a summary of some disaster assistance available:
- Disaster Unemployment is available to those whose jobs were permanently or temporarily lost due to the disaster, including those who are self-employed. Anyone who lost work and lived, worked, or was scheduled to work in a county that has received a federal disaster designation may apply for benefits by calling the Vermont Department of Labor's Claim Assistance Line at 1-877-214-3330. The filing deadline for assistance is October 7, 2011.
- Renters - not just homeowners - in 12 Vermont counties who had damage due to Tropical Storm Irene are encouraged to register with FEMA. Renters may receive grants to replace lost property or if they were displaced from their homes, they may be eligible for funds to help them with temporary rental assistance. These funds are for a limited period until the renter's previous home is habitable or another permanent rental is found.
- Housing Hotline: The state and FEMA have established a toll-free number and a fax number to receive calls from anyone who has housing available to rent or wishes to offer housing at no cost for Vermonters displaced by the flood. The toll-free phone number is 866-330-5286 and the fax number is 540-686-4467.
- Legal Services: Those facing legal issues due to Tropical Storm Irene may call (800) 889-2047 for free legal advice. Those who qualify for assistance will be matched with Vermont lawyers volunteering their time. Legal assistance may include help with insurance claims, home repair contracts and contractors, replacement of wills and other legal documents destroyed in the disaster and counseling on mortgage-foreclosure problems and landlord/tenant problems.
- The U.S. Small Business Administration provides low-interest disaster loans to homeowners, renters and businesses of all sizes. If you are referred to SBA after you register with FEMA, you should fill out the paperwork to see whether the SBA can offer you a loan. If you do not fill out an SBA packet it may close the door to other FEMA grants. For more information, call 800-659-2955 (800-877-8339 for people with speech or hearing disabilities). Applications can also be downloaded from www.sba.gov or completed online at disasterloan.sba.gov/ela/....