Federal disaster aid has been made available for West Virginia to help people in the northwestern part of the state recover from the effects of torrential rains that struck the area late last week, according to the head of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).
Michael Brown, Under Secretary of Homeland Security for Emergency Preparedness and Response, said President Bush authorized the assistance under a major disaster declaration issued following a review of FEMA’s analysis of the state’s request for federal relief. The declaration covers damage to private property from severe storms, flooding and landslides beginning on Sept. 16.
Under the declaration, Brown said stricken residents in the counties of Brooke, Hancock, Marshall, Ohio, Pleasants, Tyler, Wetzel and Wirt are eligible to apply for federal aid that can include grants to help pay for temporary housing, home repairs and other serious disaster-related expenses. Low-interest loans from the U.S. Small Business Administration also will be available to cover residential and business losses not fully compensated by insurance.
In addition, Brown said federal funds will be available to the state on a cost-shared basis for approved projects that reduce future disaster risks. He indicated that damage surveys are continuing and more counties and additional forms of assistance may be designated later based on the results of the assessments.
FEMA is asking the public’s assistance in managing call volume to support the agency’s effort to prioritize help to those with the greatest need. Owners of commercial properties and residents with only minor losses are urged to wait a few days before calling so those whose homes were destroyed or heavily damaged can be served first.
Hurricane victims with insurance coverage should contact their insurance company or agent before calling to report losses and, if necessary, to request an advance or partial payment of their settlement.
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