|Updated: FEMA descends with funds for losses|
|The Press - News|
|Written by Joel Addington|
|Thursday, 12 July 2012 15:15|
Representatives from the Federal Emergency Management Agency, or FEMA, arrived in Baker County on July 4.
The following day they began encouraging residents affected by Tropical Storm Debby to register with the agency to obtain help that includes grants for temporary housing, home repairs and to cover other storm-related expenses.
Both owners and renters are eligible for assistance.
An agency spokesperson, Patricia Whitt, said last week that FEMA outreach workers would be knocking on doors in impacted areas to let residents know about the assistance.
It became available following the July 3 federal disaster declaration by President Obama and FEMA. Storm victims generally have 60 days from the declaration to register with the agency.
Ms. Whitt said those affected by the storm should register as soon as possible because the turnaround time to receive assistance can be days, weeks or longer depending on the needs of each resident.
The registration process takes about 15 minutes.
All FEMA representatives and their partners with the State Emergency Response Team, or SERT, are wearing shirts with FEMA or SERT logos, but they’ll also have official credentials.
Ms. Whitt said victims should not give information about their property damage, insurance coverage or social security numbers to anyone who cannot prove they work for FEMA or SERT.
Residents can also call FEMA directly at 800-621-FEMA (3362) from 7 am to 10 pm local time, seven days a week to register. Those who are deaf or hard of hearing can call 800-462-7585.
Registration can be done online as well at www.disasterassistance.gov or by smartphone or tablet at m.fema.gov.
A disaster recovery center was opened July 6 across from Christian Fellowship Temple at 337 N. 7th St. in Macclenny for anyone seeking information in person.
The US Small Business Administration [SBA] can also issue low-interest loans to help homeowners, renters and business owners recoup losses not fully covered by insurance.
SBA spokesman Richard Daigle said owners and renters who lost property that was either uninsured or under-insured can borrow up to $200,000 to repair or replace a home or business damaged by Debby and pay it back over a period as long as 30 years.
The interest rates for business loans are less than 4 percent and the rates for homes are under 2 percent.
Mr.Daigle said owners and renters can also receive loans up to $40,000 to replace the contents of such properties lost due to storm damage.
“Basically, we fill in the gap when your insurance and FEMA grants are not enough to cover the loss,” he explained.
After a loan application is completed, applicants should receive a response within 10 days. Applicants are not required to accept the loans and may chose to accept only a portion of the loan funds.
“The biggest thing is to get people to apply and give themselves options,” Mr. Daigle said.
As with FEMA help, he said it’s important to apply immediately for SBA assistance to beat the September 4 deadline to get into the system. Victims should not wait for insurance claims to be resolved or overlook minor water damage that may later turn into a mold problem, the spokesman added.
For more information or to obtain an SBA loan application, call 800-659-2955 (or 800-877-8339 for the deaf or hard of hearing) or visit www.sba.gov.
The sheriff’s office reported the morning of July 9 that the Reynolds Bridge on CR 120 and Cedar Creek Bridge on CR 127 remain closed, as does Steel Bridge Road north of Johnson’s Point.
Cow Pen Road, which lost a roughly 25-foot section near Tennessee Street during Debby, has been re-opened to traffic. The gap was filled in as a temporary fix.
|Last Updated on Thursday, 12 July 2012 15:51|