FEMA Extends Disaster Assistance Deadline For Alabama Residents Affected by April Tornados, Flooding

The roof of part of Kimberly Church of God sits on nearby pavement after a tornado struck the church on April 28, 2014. There was also damage to stained-glass windows on a different building. Photos by Dan Carsen.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency has extended the deadline for Alabama residents to register for assistance if they were affected by the severe storms, tornadoes and flooding that hit the state in late April. Applications for assistance from both agencies are now due July 15, pushed back from the original July 1 deadline. The U.S. Small Business Administration has also moved its disaster loan deadline to July 15.

With over 40,000 Alabamians affected, the agencies combined have already approved over $35 million for residents affected by the storms.

"The tornadoes caused widespread damage in nine counties scattered around the state from the very southern tip around Mobile up to the state line," says Greg Hughes, a Public Information Officer with FEMA.

Hughes says nine counties were directly affected by the storms: Baldwin, Blount, DeKalb, Etowah, Jefferson, Lee, Limestone, Mobile and Tuscaloosa. FEMA says any resident in those counties can apply for disaster assistance.

"Qualification just simply means that a family and their home sustained damage." Hughes says. "Whether they had insurance or not we encourage them to apply anyway." Of those nine counties, only five will be eligible for federal and state infrastructure assistance. Those counties are Jefferson, Lee, Limestone, Mobile, and Baldwin.

Two months after the disaster, FEMA says it's made significant progress. FEMA's website says staff have inspected more than 98 percent of damaged homes and properties in the area, and have approved more than $17 million in Housing Assistance Grants. Those grants help with rental expenses, home repair costs, and other disaster-related needs, such as medical expenses and lost personal possessions.

The U.S. Small Business Administration also has a program that gives loans to non-business-owners in declared disaster areas. Since Alabama was declared a disaster area at the beginning of May, the SBA has awarded $10 million in low-interest loans to eligible homeowners, renters, or businesses.

"Our program is designed for people who are underinsured or have no insurance," says John Oliver Fredrick, SBA Public Affairs Specialist. "FEMA will get you safe, sanitary, and secure. They are not going to rebuild your house, but we will try to get you back into the state you were pre-disaster."

The SBA offers loans of up to $200,000 to repair damaged real estate and other destroyed property including cars and rental properties. The SBA tacks on a low interest rate to help pay the loan back over time.

FEMA and SBA recommend impacted homeowners apply for both FEMA disaster grants and SBA disaster loans. Each agency can help in different ways. Fredrick says that if SBA cannot help you, staff will send you to FEMA for assistance.


~ Rebecca Farmer, June 27, 2014

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