Just over six weeks after President Obama signed the major disaster declaration making West Virginia residents eligible for federal assistance following the June 22-29 storms, survivors are reminded they have only two weeks left to apply for federal grants or loans.
The deadlines to register for disaster assistance from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), as well as to file a physical disaster loan application with the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), are both Wednesday, Aug. 24.
Storm survivors have been approved for grants and loans totaling more than $94 million. The federal disaster assistance is paid to survivors of the severe storms, flooding, landslides and mudslides in the 12 southeastern West Virginia counties named in the presidential declaration of June 25.
The disaster funds come to the state in the form of FEMA grants to individuals and households; FEMA public assistance grants to local governments and nonprofit organizations; low-interest disaster loans from the SBA, and claims paid by the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP).
More than $31.7 million has been approved by FEMA for individual housing assistance, nearly $6 million in other needs assistance, $4.8 million in public assistance and $24,575 in Disaster Unemployment Assistance. In addition, the SBA approved 599 low-interest disaster loans totaling more than $39.3 million, and 941 NFIP claims have been filed totaling more than $12.7 million in payouts.
A total of 8,455 homeowners, renters and businesses have applied to FEMA for individual disaster assistance grants in the 12 affected counties: Clay, Fayette, Greenbrier, Jackson, Kanawha, Lincoln, Monroe, Nicholas, Pocahontas, Roane, Summers, and Webster.
Disaster assistance for individuals may include grants to help homeowners and renters with temporary housing, essential home repairs, personal property replacement, and serious disaster-related needs. Disaster assistance grants are not taxable income and will not affect eligibility for Social Security, Medicare and other federal and state programs. Grants do not have to be repaid to the federal government.
FEMA Public Assistance Grants provide funding to state, tribal and local governments, and certain types of private, nonprofit organizations to help them quickly respond to and recover from major disasters or emergencies declared by the president. Public assistance grants are available in Braxton, Gilmer, Lewis, Randolph, Upshur and Wayne counties and are also available in the 12 individual assistance counties.
FEMA-contracted housing inspectors have completed nearly 6,800 inspections of disaster-damaged properties to verify damage.
Registering with FEMA is the first step in qualifying for assistance. Aug. 24 is the last day for survivors to file an application. FEMA encourages all survivors who sustained disaster-related damage or losses to apply by phone (voice, 711 or relay service) at 800-621-3362 (TTY users should call 800-462-7585) or online at DisasterAssistance.gov. The toll-free lines are open 7 a.m.-10 p.m. seven days a week. Multilingual operators are available.
In support of the State of West Virginia, Disaster Survivor Assistance (DSA) personnel are still canvassing flood-impacted neighborhoods. To date, DSA workers have made 18,089 visits to homes in storm-impacted neighborhoods. They are equipped to register survivors with FEMA and answer their questions about disaster assistance.