The U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), the New York State Emergency Management Office (SEMO) and voluntary agencies continue to help New Yorkers recover from the severe storms and floods that occurred between Aug. 13 and Sept. 16, 2004. More than $1.8 million in disaster assistance has been approved to help victims meet their most basic disaster recovery needs.
The following serves as a summary of the joint disaster recovery operation:
* Nearly $1.2 million has been disbursed to renters and homeowners whose primary residences were damaged or destroyed, or who were displaced from their homes. Victims can use the funds to make repairs to their disaster-damaged homes, and to pay rent for temporary housing or cover other lodging expenses if displaced from their homes as a result of the disaster.
* More than $604,000 has been approved for victims to repair or replace damaged and destroyed personal property not covered by insurance, and to repair or replace a primary means of transportation; for moving and storage expenses; and for medical and dental expenses incurred as a direct result of the disaster; and for other serious disaster-related needs.
As of last Friday, more than 6,680 individuals have applied for assistance. Disaster victims can register by calling: 1-800-621-FEMA (3362) or 1-800-462-7585 (TTY) for the hearing and speech impaired. Lines remain open from 6 a.m. to midnight, Monday through Friday. Individuals with Internet access can register anytime at www.fema.gov. The deadline to apply is Jan. 15, 2005.
* The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) has issued more than 2,868 applications to homeowners, renters and business owners for low-interest disaster loans. Filling out the application does not obligate the applicant to accept a loan. However, residents should complete and return the SBA loan application as soon as possible, because those who do not qualify for an SBA loan may be referred to other available disaster-aid programs. The SBA is the federal government’s primary resource for long-term disaster recovery financing.
* FEMA has conducted 5,418 inspections of disaster-damaged properties. Thirty-nine FEMA inspectors are currently visiting homes in the 14 disaster-designated counties. FEMA contract inspectors work by appointment only. They verify damages but do not determine eligibility, and they never charge a fee.
* After applying for assistance, hundreds of applicants visited Disaster Recovery Centers (DRCs) to meet face-to-face with recovery specialists. At a DRC, representatives of local, state, federal and voluntary agencies provide program information and technical assistance on ways to reduce damages from future disasters, as well information on flood insurance. Loan officers from the SBA are also available to assist those who need help with their disaster loan applications.
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