Federal and state funds to assist West Virginians with Hurricane Ivan flood recovery efforts has reached more than $49 million, state and federal recovery officials said.
President Bush’s Sept. 20 Hurricane Ivan disaster declaration for West Virginia now includes 22 counties for Public Assistance, 19 of which are eligible for Individual Assistance programs, too.
Federal Coordinating Officer Lou Botta of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) said, “These FEMA and state grants, U.S. Small Business low interest disaster loans and National Flood Insurance Program payments are helping West Virginians recover from Hurricane Ivan flooding. We have made a good start on recovery, but there is much work yet to be done.”
State Coordinating Officer Steve Kappa of the West Virginia Office of Emergency Services added, “The deadline to register for aid is fast approaching. It is November 19 for the 22 counties declared in West Virginia. Anyone with damage who has not yet registered, please do so now. Call 1-800-621-3362. Hours of operation are 6 a.m. to midnight, seven days a week.”
Grants – $15.9 million for 4,444 households – are provided under the FEMA and State of West Virginia Individuals and Households Program (IHP), which is divided into Housing Assistance and Other Needs Assistance. Housing Assistance provides renters and homeowners who cannot or should not live in their disaster-damaged homes grants to obtain alternate living quarters. When possible, homeowners may receive a grant to make the home livable.
To date, FEMA has approved $10.4 million to assist 4,118 households with housing assistance. Other Needs Assistance (ONA) provides grants to homeowners and renters who do not qualify for a U.S. Small Business Administration low-interest disaster loan to obtain essential needs not met by other assistance programs. Among such are disaster-related lost personal property, funeral expenses, transportation and dental and medical costs. To date, FEMA and the State of West Virginia have approved $5.5 million for 1,550 households under ONA.
FEMA and the State through the Public Assistance Program also reimburses local governments, state agencies and certain non profits providing a government like service for eligible losses and cost in responding or recovering from a disaster. The reimbursements are for debris removal, emergency protective measures and repair or restoration of disaster-damaged infrastructure. To date, $8.8 million in reimbursements have been obligated.
The U.S. Small Business Administration has approved $5.6 million in low-interest disaster loans. SBA provides low interest disaster loans to renters, homeowners and businesses of all sizes. If anyone received an SBA loan packet after registering with FEMA, it is very important to fill the packet out and return it prior to the deadline. If SBA declines to offer a loan, the registrant may be referred to other disaster assistance grant programs for help.
The National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) has paid out more than $19 million so far in claims. To date, 1,445 Hurricane Ivan-related flood insurance claims have been filed, with 605 of those cases closed, the officials added. NFIP continues processing the remaining claims. Commercial insurance companies in communities that participate sell flood insurance policies for NFIP in the federal flood insurance program.
“Flood insurance is the primary form of assistance when storms occur,” Botta said. “Under NFIP, we aim to pay claims promptly and responsively, so that people can get on with restoring their homes and businesses.”
So far, 7,073 people in the 19 counties designated for housing and other needs assistance have registered for aid.
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