Minneapolis, MN -- Federal and state officials are urging everyone who suffered damage or loss during the severe storms and flooding that occurred between May 17 to July 12 to apply for disaster assistance as soon as possible. The application process starts with just one call to the Federal Emergency Management Agency at 1-800-462-9029 (TTY 1-800-462-7585).
At close of business Sunday, 2,074 Minnesota residents in the eight counties now eligible for individual assistance had already called FEMA to apply. Nearly 550 residents have called from the newly declared counties alone.
In response to application phone calls, federal grants totaling $1,115,033 have already been approved to cover eligible costs for 790 residents. More than $150,000 of those dollars approved will be disbursed to 42 southeast and Twin Cities metro area applicants. These grants may be just the first type of disaster assistance that victims receive.
"Any homeowner, renter or business owner affected by the storms can call our toll-free number for assistance with their recovery process," said Federal Coordinating Officer Ted Monette. "The phone interview usually takes about 15 minutes. It's easy, it's efficient, and it provides the information necessary for determining your eligibility for various types of assistance to cover disaster-related costs not reimbursed by insurance."
In response to your application call, a FEMA inspector will contact you to schedule a visit to your damaged property. Following that visit, the inspection data is sent to a processing center and your eligibility for disaster housing assistance will be determined. If you qualify, you will receive a payment within a week or sooner. You also may receive a loan packet from the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) or a letter regarding your eligibility for grant monies.
Monette is quick to remind everyone to save repair receipts to help make the reimbursement process easier. "We want all affected residents in the declared areas to get all of the assistance they're qualified to receive. But the process must begin with a toll-free call to FEMA at 1-800-462-9029 or to TTY 1-800-462-7585 if you are speech or hearing-impaired. Phone lines will be open daily from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. until further notice."
James Lee Witt, Director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) recently amended an earlier Presidential disaster declaration for Minnesota to include individual assistance for residents of Dakota, Fillmore, Houston and Mower counties. Assistance programs include: disaster housing aid for temporary housing and repairs to make a home safe, secure and habitable; low-interest loans from the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) for renters, homeowners and business owners for repair, replacement or rebuilding of disaster-damaged property; and, grants from the Individual and Family Grant Program (IFG) to cover serious and immediate disaster-related needs not met by other sources.
The Minnesota disaster declaration also makes public assistance available to municipalities and non-profit organizations in 13 counties and the White Earth Reservation. That assistance includes federal funding to complete mitigation projects on a cost-shared basis.
"As part of our nationwide Project Impact initiative," said FEMA's Monette, "we will be considering a range of measures that might be taken to prevent damage and loss in future disasters." Such measures are the focus of Project Impact: Building Disaster-Resistant Communities. This major mitigation effort, launched in 1997 by FEMA Director Witt, expands the agency's mission beyond simply responding when disaster strikes to planning for the prevention of future disaster-related damage and loss.