OAK HILL —
With Fayette, Raleigh, Nicholas and Kanawha countians now eligible to receive assistance for recovery from this summer’s severe storms, more reimbursement benefits and loans are opening up for homeowners, renters, businesses and nonprofits. The first step? Take 15 minutes to register.
“Don’t disqualify yourself,” warns Federal Emergency Management Agency spokesperson Frank Blake. “Let FEMA determine your eligibility. There is no expense to register with FEMA to find out if you are eligible.”
“We cannot duplicate insurance reimbursements, but we may be able to pay for some things not covered by insurance,” says Blake. “So even if you had insurance and received a payment, still register with FEMA.”
Originally denied the assistance, the four counties were found eligible on appeal after a second assessment by FEMA, the West Virginia Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management and local officials showed more damage than was previously documented. Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin announced the approval last week, following a presidential disaster declaration in July.
“Before the individual assistance was declared last Wednesday, some people did their best to register with FEMA,” says Blake. “Even if they called FEMA before last Wednesday, they need to call again.”
The FEMA individual assistance helps eligible applicants with uninsured personal property losses and medical, dental and funeral expenses caused by the disaster, along with other disaster-related expenses and serious needs, according to a statement from FEMA.
Housing assistance comes in two forms: reimbursements for temporary housing costs and “essential” home repairs.
“FEMA is not an insurance policy, so it doesn’t pay to return a home to pre-disaster condition,” says Blake. “The inspection determines what is essential and non-essential.”
Spoiled food or other losses due to the extended power outage are not eligible. Neither are reimbursements for generator purchases, except in rare circumstances of documented medical or extraordinary needs, such as purchase for use to charge oxygen machines.
The first step to apply for assistance is registration, which takes 15 to 30 minutes. This is available online at www.DisasterAssistance.gov or by phone at 800-621-FEMA. Applicants who use TTY should call 800-462-7585. Those who use 711 or Video Relay Service should call 800-621-3362. Telephone lines are open from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. seven days a week.
FEMA will ask for the following information:
-- The telephone number where applicants can be reached
-- The address where applicants lived at the time of the disaster and the address where they are staying
-- Their Social Security number
-- A general description of the damage to property and other losses
-- The name of the insurance company and policy number or agent if the property is insured
-- Bank account routing information for direct deposit of funds
After registration, an inspection will be scheduled to verify damages. Then applicants will receive a letter informing them whether or not they are eligible, and for how much.
There is no application deadline at this time.
The Small Business Administration is also offering low-interest, long-term loans to disaster victims in the four counties, even those who don’t own businesses.
Homeowners, renters, businesses of all sizes, and private, nonprofit organizations can apply for loans to repair or replace real estate, personal property, machinery and equipment, inventory and business assets that were damaged or destroyed in the storm.
Renters and homeowners alike may borrow up to $40,000 to repair or replace clothing, furniture, cars or appliances. Homeowners may apply for up to $200,000 to repair or replace their primary residence to its pre-disaster condition.
Businesses of all sizes and private, nonprofit organizations may apply for a Physical Disaster Loan of up to $2 million to repair or replace damaged real estate, equipment, inventory and fixtures.
Applicants may apply online using the Electronic Loan Application via SBA’s secure website at https://disasterloan.sba.gov/ela.
The filing deadline to return applications for physical property damage is Nov. 19. The deadline to return economic injury applications is June 19, 2013.
For more information about the SBA’s Disaster Loan Program, visit www.sba.gov or call 800-659-2955.