Disaster aid deadline looms

Published 11:00 am Wednesday, June 29, 2011

As the July Fourth holiday approaches so does the deadline to register for disaster assistance for losses suffered in the April 16 storms and tornadoes.

Eligible homeowners, renters and business owners in 20 North Carolina counties – Alamance, Bertie, Bladen, Craven, Cumberland, Currituck, Greene, Halifax, Harnett, Hertford, Hoke, Johnston, Lee, Onslow, Pitt, Robeson, Sampson, Tyrrell, Wake and Wilson – have until July 5 to  register with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).

That deadline is the same for those submitting disaster loan applications to the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA). These loans are available to homeowners and renters as well as to private nonprofit organizations and businesses of all sizes.

The original June 20 deadline was extended at the request of North Carolina Emergency Management officials.

Registering with FEMA can be done online at www.DisasterAssistance.gov or by calling 800-621-FEMA (3362). Callers with speech or hearing disabilities can use TTY 800-462-7585.  Smartphone users can go to m.fema.gov.

Those who have already registered can call the same number for the Helpline if they have questions or additional information to provide. Helpline hours are from 6 a.m. until 1 a.m.

Prior to calling or registering online, residents should have:

The address of the affected property;

A brief description of the damages;

A current address where they receive mail;

Security number;

Insurance information including policy numbers; and

A phone number and an alternate phone number.

FEMA’s housing assistance and Other Needs Assistance grants for medical, dental, and funeral expenses do not require individuals to apply for an SBA loan. However, applicants who receive SBA loan applications must submit them to SBA to be considered for assistance that covers personal property, vehicle repair or replacement, and moving and storage expenses. Applicants who do not qualify for an SBA loan may be eligible to receive Other Needs Assistance grants for these items.

The SBA Disaster Customer Service Center toll-free number is 800-659-2955. Help is also available by sending an e-mail to disastercustomerservice@sba.gov or by going online at www.sba.gov. Loan applications can be made online at SBA’s secure website: disasterloan.sba.gov/ela/.

People who have unmet needs after exhausting all possibilities with FEMA and SBA, may still get help from long-term recovery groups in their county. These groups are made up of voluntary agencies in cooperation with governmental partners following major disasters. They coordinate aid among all agencies to maximize the assistance provided to disaster survivors and avoid duplication of services. County emergency managers have information about local help.

For more information about this disaster, go to www.nccrimecontrol.org and click on the red “April Tornadoes” tab. More information is also available at www.fema.gov.