Ga. Residents Reminded Not to Miss Out on Disaster Assistance

January 25, 2006

With just five days to go before the Jan. 30, 2006 deadline to apply for disaster assistance, officials of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) are urging Georgia residents of Marshall and Hopkins counties who were affected by the Nov. 15 storms and tornadoes to make sure they have applied for all the federal assistance for which they may be eligible.

Only those who have applied to FEMA by Monday, Jan. 30, 2006 may be eligible for the variety of assistance programs made available by the presidential disaster declaration made on Dec. 1.

To apply for disaster assistance, call FEMA toll-free at 1-800-621-FEMA (3362) or TTY 1-800-462-7585. Phone lines are open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Application may also be made online at .

Some additional information relating to applying for disaster assistance that may be of assistance…

* Even if you received assistance from the American Red Cross, you MUST still apply directly to FEMA for federal disaster assistance.

* The Red Cross is there in the days after a disaster to provide for immediate needs of food, clothing and shelter, but FEMA programs are designed to help with long term recovery, which starts with housing assistance. Federal assistance comes in the form of grants or SBA loans, but you must apply specifically to each in order to be considered for eligibility.

* Even if you have insurance, you may still be eligible for disaster assistance.

* Even though your homeowner’s policy may cover most of the cost of repairing your home, there may be some things insurance does not cover and other things it covers only partially. Federal disaster assistance may be able to help fill in the gaps of your insurance coverage.

* You don’t have to wait for your insurance adjuster’s inspection or settlement before seeking federal assistance or beginning repairs on your home.

* You should begin making repairs on your home as soon as possible to return it to a safe, sanitary condition. Be sure to keep all paperwork and receipts pertaining to the work done, and never let any work begin before first obtaining a written estimate for the specific work to be done. Have insurance settlement papers handy when you apply for federal assistance. This information is necessary in order to determine what unmet needs you may have.

* If you have received an SBA loan application and it has not been completed and returned, this could delay other forms of disaster assistance.

In a disaster declaration, SBA is the primary source of financial assistance. If you do not qualify for a loan, you will be referred for other federal or state assistance, such as FEMA’s Other Needs Assistance (ONA) program, which covers disaster-related costs such as furniture, medical and dental expenses, funeral and burial expenses, and transportation expenses. An applicant will not be considered for ONA until they have applied to and been denied by SBA. You can get help by calling the SBA Customer Service Center at 1-800-359-2227 or online at .

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