With sizeable disaster assistance checks being distributed to those who qualify for Department of Homeland Security’s Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and Oklahoma Department of Emergency Management (OEM) grant programs, officials are urging recipients to handle the money with caution and confine spending to disaster-related losses.
Federal Coordinating Officer Philip Parr said that experience shows that disposition of assistance checks inevitably causes problems for some survivors in every disaster.
“This is a time when people are particularly vulnerable and predators are quick to take advantage of them,” said Parr. “When dealing with thousands of dollars, caution is the operative word. A letter is sent with each check which lists the reason for the grant and how the monies are to be used,” he added.
He said checks should be deposited in the applicant’s bank account as soon as possible, large sums of cash should not be carried and recipients should never deal with strangers offering check-cashing or deposit services.
“This financial assistance is intended to ease the pain of serious disaster losses and it is to be used for that purpose,” added State Coordinating Officer Kathleen Shingledecker. “We urge grant recipients to avoid the temptation to pay household bills with the money or make purchases unrelated to needs created by the disaster.”
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