Since President Bush issued a disaster declaration for Indiana’s Vanderburgh and Warrick counties on Nov. 8, more than $2.4 million in federal and state disaster assistance has been approved for households and government entities affected by the tornado and severe storms. Federal disaster-assistance statistics to date are as follows:
FEMA has received 1,070 applications from residents affected by the tornado. Housing Assistance approved for homeowners and renters totals $268,750. Housing Assistance includes lodging expenses, repair assistance, and temporary rental assistance. Other Needs Assistance has reached $406,107. Other Needs Assistance can include medical, dental, and funeral expenses; furniture, clothing and certain appliances; vehicle costs; and other eligible expenses.
The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) has approved $130,000 to date in low-interest loans to repair storm-damaged homes.
Costs incurred by government entities in responding to the tornado may be reimbursable. Such costs include overtime, debris removal, and equipment usage. FEMA pays 75 percent, and the local government pays 25 percent. To date, nearly $1.6 million in assistance has been approved for these public-infrastructure projects.
The Indiana Department of Insurance Consumer Service is available to assist individuals who have questions regarding insurance or complaints against their insurance companies. The consumer service line can be reached at 1-800-622-4461.
Residents who have questions regarding their applications can call the FEMA Helpline at 1-800-621-FEMA (3362). Those with speech or hearing impairments can call TTY 1-800-462-7585. The toll-free telephone numbers are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Those who have not yet registered can still do so by calling the same numbers through Jan. 7, 2006.
Voluntary agencies continue to address needs of families who may have not qualified for or may have reached the limits of eligibility for federal and state disaster assistance.
In Vanderburgh and Warrick counties, voluntary organizations have formed the Long-Term Recovery Committee of Southwestern Indiana. Trained caseworkers provide storm victims with information and assistance that includes helping them replace household items and answering housing questions and connecting them with mental-health counselors. The committee continues to accept both donations of household items as well as monetary donations to assist those with long-term needs. To find out more, contact the committee at (812) 490-6806.
Information available on the FEMA Web site, www.fema.gov, includes steps individuals can take to improve safety and minimize damage should storms and tornadoes strike again (for example, click on Mitigation and Flood Insurance and then on Safe Rooms and Community Shelters).
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