SPREADING THE WORD ABOUT FEMA, NEIGHBOR TO NEIGHBOR
BURLINGTON, VT – The Federal Emergency Management Agency has recently incorporated the latest high-tech ways of getting the word out about disaster assistance, including websites, mobile applications and cell phones. However, one of the best ways to spread information is still the old-fashioned way: word-of-mouth.
That’s why officials from FEMA and Vermont Emergency Management are encouraging Vermonters who have experienced damage from the spring flooding and already registered for disaster assistance to let their friends and neighbors know that help may be available.
“Vermont is the kind of state where we talk to our neighbors,” said VEM’s director Mike O’Neil. “So if you know someone who has experienced damage from the recent flooding, encourage them to register for disaster assistance.”
To register for disaster assistance, call 800-621-FEMA (3362). Multilingual registration assistance is also available. Those with a speech disability or hearing loss who use a TTY can call 800-462-7585 directly, or 800-621-3362, if using 711 or Video Relay Service. Registration can also be done online anytime at http://www.disasterassistance.gov/ or through web-enabled mobile phone devices or smartphones at m.fema.gov.
“I couldn’t believe I was the only one on my block to apply,” said Laurie Singer of Essex, VT. Singer’s foundation was inundated with ground-flooding, which damaged her boiler and hot-water heater. “When I told my neighbors they should apply, they didn’t think they would get anything. I applied on a Thursday, and a week later, the funds to replace and repair the damage were in my bank account. I was really impressed by how efficiently FEMA has been handling the flooding. I knocked on doors, and told my neighbors because some of them had more damage than I did.”
“Even if you think you may not be eligible, you should register and find out,” said FEMA’s federal coordinating officer Craig Gilbert. “FEMA assistance includes programs from many different agencies and organizations.”
FEMA grants may cover rental assistance, home repairs and replacement of essential household items not covered by insurance. The objective is to make damaged dwellings safe, sanitary and functional. Other Needs Assistance grants may be available to replace personal property and help meet medical, dental and transportation and other serious disaster-related needs not covered by insurance or other federal, state and charitable-aid programs.
The U.S. Small Business Administration offers low-interest disaster loans to homeowners, renters, businesses of all sizes and private nonprofit organizations for losses not covered by insurance. The SBA may lend up to $200,000 to repair or replace homes and up to $40,000 to repair or replace personal property. Also, up to $2 million may be available for businesses and nonprofit organizations for their uncompensated disaster losses.
No one is obligated to accept a loan. However, a completed SBA loan application may open the door to other possible forms of assistance.
FEMA’s mission is to support our citizens and first responders to ensure that as a nation we work together to build, sustain, and improve our capability to prepare for, protect against, respond to, recover from, and mitigate all hazards.
Disaster recovery assistance is available without regard to race, color, religion, nationality, sex, age, disability, English proficiency or economic status. If you or someone you know has been discriminated against, call FEMA toll-free at 800-621-FEMA (3362). For TTY call 800-462-7585. If you have a speech disability or hearing loss and use a TTY, call 1-800-462-7585 directly; if you use 711 or Video Relay Service (VRS), call 1-800-621-3362
FEMA’s temporary housing assistance and grants for public transportation expenses, medical and dental expenses, and funeral and burial expenses do not require individuals to apply for an SBA loan. However, applicants who receive SBA loan applications must submit them to SBA loan officers to be eligible for assistance that covers personal property, vehicle repair or replacement, and moving and storage expenses.
SBA disaster loan information and application forms may be obtained by calling the SBA’s Customer Service Center at 800-659-2955 (800-877-8339 for people with speech or hearing disabilities) Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. ET or by sending an e-mail to email@example.com. Applications can also be downloaded from http://www.sba.gov/ or completed on-line at https://disasterloan.sba.gov/ela/.