The aftermath of a hurricane can be just as devastating as the hurricane itself, as victims of Hurricane Irma are now learning. Once the flooding begins to subside and the damage can be assessed, homeowners may find that they were not as prepared as they hoped. Fortunately, there’s help. Government programs are in place to provide financial assistance to homeowners who need help to rebuild.
F.E.M.A. Is Still Coming To Your Aid
Many people assume the Federal Emergency Management Agency only comes to help in cases, where an event has created a crisis, believing that the organization departs as soon as the emergency no longer poses an immediate threat. While it is true that F.E.M.A. does respond to federally declared disasters, they do more than just help survivors get to safety. They also provide financial assistance to property owners.
Homeowners should act quickly, beginning the application process for aid by visiting disasterassistance.gov as soon as they’re able. This is important, because there’s a 60 day limit to filing a claim. The 60 day window begins on the day that the area was declared as a disaster. Those who don’t have internet access can apply via telephone at 800-621-3362.
A grant is not the same as a loan. Those receiving an Individual Assistance grant are not responsible for repaying the money. While there are no income requirements to qualify, F.E.M.A. may redirect some cases to the Small Business Administration.
The Small Business Administration Offers Recovery Loans
If you are referred to the Small Business Administration, you may qualify for a loan, which will have to be repaid. In order to qualify for a loan from the S.B.A., applicants must be located within eligible geographical areas.
The latest updated list of counties eligible for loans is:
Florida: Revard, Broward, Charlotte, Clay, Collier, Duval, Flagler, Hillsborough, Lee, Manatee, Miami-Dade, Monroe, Orange, Palm Beach, Pasco, Pinellas, Polk, Putnam, Saint Johns, Saint Lucie, Sarasota.
Puerto Rico: Culebra and Vieques counties.
U.S. Virgin Islands: Saint John and Saint Thomas.
Elsewhere in Florida, property owners may be eligible for Economic Injury Loans to help offset the costs of recovery from Hurricane Irma. These eligible counties are:
Angelina, Atascosa, Brooks, Burleson, Caldwell, Grimes, Guadalupe, Houston, Jim Wells, Kenedy, Live Oak, Madison, Milam, San Augustine, Shelby, Travis, Trinity, Washington, Williamson, Wilson.
The website for applying for Economic Injury Loans can be found at https://disasterloan.sba.gov/ela/. For those who have already filed, the link can also be used to check on the status of your application.
Inquiries can be directed to the Small Business Administration at 1-800-659-2955.