$8.1 million approved in FEMA grants as flood recovery assistance deadline nears

Monday is the final day to apply for Federal Emergency Management Agency grant funding and U.S. Small Business Administration loans to recover from the floods in August and September. FEMA has approved $8.1 million in grant funding for people recovering from the floods in August and September.

FEMA is working closely with the U.S. Small Business Administration to give people the aid that’s right for them. Some of the grants and loans available can add up in the thousands or millions of dollars, but it all starts with a registration.

Out of the $8.1 million already approved, $7.3 million will be used for housing assistance grants, which can be used in multiple ways.

“To help you repair your home, to make it safe, livable and sure. Also, we could offer you rental assistance to help you get back on your feet until you’re pursuing a permanent housing solution,” said Jim Homstad, a spokesperson for FEMA.

FEMA has approved 1,835 total applications from the nine designated disaster counties as of Wednesday. But some applicants may also be asked to complete an application with the U.S. Small Business Association. FEMA and the SBA recommend applying to both agencies to see which options are available to the applicant.

“Our partners at FEMA are going to get you back into a safe, secure environment to meet that immediate need. We partner to provide that long-term need,” said Kevin Noe, spokesperson for the U.S. Small Business Administration.

The SBA can provide loans with interest rates as low as 2 percent for homeowners, 2.5 percent for nonprofit organizations, and 3.675 percent for business.

“We can actually issue a loan up to $2 million to help get… the physical structure back to where it was before the storm,” Noe said.

And it also has what it calls Economic Injury Loans for businesses in counties near the designated disaster areas that have taken a financial hit.

“Part of what we’re doing now is providing that working capital to keep business functioning and moving forward until they can completely recover,” Noe said.

But none of these funds are available to people affected by the severe weather unless they register before the deadline.

“If you don’t, you may be leaving recovery dollars on the table,” Homstad said.

People are reminded that even if they have flood insurance, they should still apply for assistance. These grants can help fill the gaps where the policy doesn’t cover their losses.

To submit an application in person and learn more about what’s available from these teams, people can drop by the Disaster Recovery Center in Vernon County. Friday is the last day it will be open. It is located at the United Methodist Church in Westby and it is open from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.

For individuals and households, to get the process started, applicants must first register with FEMA. There are three ways to do it. Online at www.disasterassistance.gov (the fastest way to register). People can also call the toll-free Disaster Assistance helpline at 800-621-3362. There is a FEMA app available, as well.

To apply for assistance with the SBA, go to disasterloan.sba.gov/ela. People can also call 800-659-2955. For the deaf and hard of hearing, the text telephone number is 800-877-8339.

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