JULIA ROBERTS GOAD
DINGESS - The Federal Emergency Management Agency met with residents of the Dingess area to help them understand their options to get help recovering from flooding that occurred in March.
Mingo Emergency Services Director Jarrod Fletcher introduced representatives from FEMA and the Small Business Administration who explained the services offered to those who were affected by the storms.
Representatives emphasized the importance of registering with FEMA as the first step in the process of obtained assistance recovering from a disaster.
If a person suffered damages, either as a homeowner or a renter, they may be eligible for a grant to help them recover. However, Kim Sheridan, Individual Branch Director for FEMA, said the agency does not return properties to their pre-disaster state.
“We help you if your home is not safe and sanitary,” Sheridan said. “We help with what is immediate and essential.”
She also explained the importance of having flood insurance.
“If you live in a flood zone, and don’t have flood insurance, FEMA cannot help you,” she said.
Persons applying must have proof of residency, such as utility bills or a driver’s license. If those are not available, sign confirmation of residency by a public official may be considered as well.
Those who receive notification that they have been denied help from FEMA can appeal that decision, a process that begins with contacting the number on the letter of denial. Sheridan told those at the meeting it is important they read the letter notifying them of FEMA’s decision completely, as it includes how to appeal a denial.
FEMA can also help find rental properties to those whose homes are affected by the flooding. The agency works with resources such as HUD to locate rental properties, and can help pay rent for up to 18 months. However, to qualify for rental assistance, those people must be willing to live within a 25 mile radius from their own homes.
The Small Business Administration was also on hand to explain SBA disaster loans. Beverlyn McDonald, Public Affairs Specialist with the SBA, said the Administration’s disaster assistance is different from the type of help they usually provide.
“These are low interest loans to those affected by a disaster,” McDonald said. “These loans are provided for any uncompensated, uninsured losses.”
There are several types of loans available to those who suffered losses in the disaster.
Home disaster loans are intended to help homeowners or renters repair or replace disaster-damaged real estate or personal property owned by the victim. Renters are eligible for their personal property losses, including vehicles.
Business physical disaster loans are to help business owners repair or replace disaster-damaged property. Businesses of any size are eligible, as are non-profit organizations, charities, churches and schools.
Economic Injury Disaster Loans supply working capital to help small business meet their ordinary and necessary financial obligation that cannot be met as a result of the disaster.
In order to be approved for a loan, applicants must meet credit requirements and show an ability to repay the loan. Collateral is required for loans over $14,000.
McDonald said interest rates for homeowner, renter and personal property loans start at 1.8 percent. Loan amounts can go up to $200,000 for a structure and $40,000 for contents.
Business loans can go up to $2 million and the interest rates start at 4 percent.
“Our loan amounts are determined by your actual uncompensated uninsured loss, and can go up to 30 years,” McDonald said.
The deadline for applying for an SBA loan is May 21, if the loan for physical damages, or Dec. 24 if the loan is for economic injury. The first part of the application process for an SBA loan is to register with FEMA. The application will be sent to those who register.
Even if disaster victims do not want, or cannot get approval for an SBA loan, it is important that they apply, as it is a step of the disaster assistance process. Even if approved, disaster victims do not have to take the loan. Approvals for loans are valid for six months.
The disaster recovery center open in the Verndunville Fire Department has FEMA reps who can fill out an application, as well as sending faxes and making phone calls about the process for those who prefer to apply in person. But, the center will close Friday, May 11. Until then hours are 10 a.m. until 7 p.m. Monday though Friday, and 10 until 5 on Saturdays. The center will close at noon on May 11.
For more information, or to apply for disaster assitance, visit www.disasterassistance.gov or call 1-800-621-3362.