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Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Information offered to help better understand FEMA Disaster Assistance Grants

Disasters often leave survivors dazed, confused, hardly knowing which way to turn or what to do. Financial help for a variety of needs may be available from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the Iowa Homeland Security and Emergency Management Division (HSEMD).

“FEMA is here in Iowa to be sure that eligible Iowans receive help with their home repair expenses, rent payments and some of the other unexpected financial burdens brought into their lives by the severe weather that has been ongoing here since May 25,” said FEMA’s Federal Coordinating Officer Bill Vogel. “FEMA wants you to know about the types of grants available to help you cope with disaster-related losses.”

As of July 1, FEMA has approved more than $73 million in grants to help more than 13,000 Iowa households with uninsured housing costs. These grants are available for:

• Eligible homeowners or renters whose house or apartment is made uninhabitable by the disaster to cover rent for temporary replacement housing, most often a rental apartment or house.
• Eligible homeowners to cover costs for repairing uninsured damage to their primary residence with the goal of making the damaged home livable.

Although FEMA does not reimburse insured costs or insurance deductibles, some people who have insurance may still qualify for a grant to cover costs that are not insured. For example, the homeowners policy may not cover rental expenses for temporary housing. A FEMA grant might fill the gap.

Disasters can cause serious financial burdens other than for housing needs. For eligible applicants, FEMA and state grants may help pay for such non-housing costs as:
• Disaster-related funeral and medical or dental costs
• Replacement of clothing, furniture and appliances
• Necessary educational materials (computers, school books, supplies)
• Repair or replacement of a disaster-damaged vehicle
• Moving and storage expenses related to the disaster
• Other necessary expenses or serious needs.

As of July 1, FEMA had approved almost $7 million in other needs assistance grants for Iowans.

“These grants are available to anyone who meets FEMA’s eligibility criteria,” said Iowa State Coordinating Officer Pat Hall. “Even if you have insurance, you could still qualify for a grant. I urge all Iowans with losses from our recent series of extreme weather who live in federally declared counties to register for assistance.”

Individuals may register by calling toll-free 1-800-621-FEMA (3362) or (TTY) 1-800-462-7585 for those with hearing or speech impairments or online anytime at Hours for telephone registration are 24 hours a day, seven days a week until 11 p.m. Thursday, July 3, when they will change to 6 a.m. to 11 p.m., seven days a week, until further notice. Applicants may also call those numbers to check on their status, update their applications or report any additional damage.