July 08, 2011
Officials with the Federal Emergency Management Agency are encouraging Vermont residents affected by the spring flooding to get the facts before deciding whether they are eligible for disaster assistance.
One of the reasons renters, homeowners and businesses may not be registering is a mistaken belief that they will be taking away money from others who have had more damage.
“There is enough disaster assistance for everyone,” said FEMA’s federal coordinating officer Craig Gilbert. “The worst thing you can do is NOT register.”
“We want to assure everyone who experienced flooding damage that help is available,” said Vermont Emergency Management director Mike O’Neil.
Disaster grants may provide rental assistance, home repairs and replacement of essential household items not covered by insurance. Other Needs Assistance may be available to replace personal property and help meet medical, dental, transportation and other serious disaster-related needs not covered by insurance or other federal, state and charitable-aid programs.
Individual and family disaster aid is available to residents who experienced damage from the flooding that occurred from April 23rd to May 9th in seven of the following Vermont counties: Addison, Chittenden, Essex, Franklin, Grand Isle, Lamoille, and Orleans.
Following are the facts behind some myths or misperceptions about disaster assistance:
MYTH: Calling 2-1-1 is the same as registering for FEMA assistance.
FACT: If Vermont residents called the state’s 2-1-1 service during or after the April storms and flooding to report their damages, it is not the same as registering for FEMA assistance. Vermont 2-1-1 is a permanent resource that provides information and referrals within the state. The FEMA registration line (1-800-621-3362) is the only phone number that enters flood survivors into the system for federal 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 www.DisasterAssistance.gov or through web-enabled mobile phone devices at m.fema.gov.
MYTH: If you have insurance, you will not be eligible for FEMA assistance.
FACT: Those affected by the storms should apply even if they have insurance. Insurance coverage may not be adequate and some foundation damage may not show up until later. If an insurance settlement is delayed, call FEMA. Also call FEMA if the settlement does not cover losses or if the additional living expense benefit is exhausted. Remember, failure to file with an insurance company within 12 months can affect a person's eligibility for FEMA assistance.
MYTH: You shouldn’t have to fill out an application for a loan if you don’t want one.
FACT: After you register, you may receive a packet from the U.S. Small Business Administration along with other information. Completing an SBA application is a gateway to determining possible eligibility for other financial assistance. Filling out an application for a low-interest disaster-assistance loan does not mean you are expected to take out a loan, but you may be denying yourself other possible grants.
MYTH: If you’ve already repaired the damage from the flood so you won’t be able to receive any FEMA assistance.
FACT: If you’ve already made repairs to disaster-related damage, you may still be eligible for reimbursement. However, receipts may be required.
MYTH: Senior citizens may lose their Social Security or Medicare benefits if they receive disaster assistance.
FACT: Seniors should not worry about losing Social Security and Medicare benefits because disaster assistance grants are not considered taxable income. Disaster assistance will not affect Social Security or Medicare.
Source: Vermont Emergency Management
Last Updated at: July 08, 2011 16:12:44