FARMINGTON — The local response for disaster relief from the federal government has been light the past week, but members of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) say there’s still time to apply for assistance to help with costs incurred during the recent severe storm.
Robert Harting, disaster recovery center manager for FEMA, will close a temporary center in Farmington at the end of business today. Another center will remain open in Fredericktown, and residents can also apply for recovery aid online at www.DisasterAssistance.gov, or by calling 1-800-621-FEMA.
Harting said response for assistance was light at the Farmington FEMA center, which was set up at the regional airport terminal. Only six people came through the office Thursday, a couple of whom were following up from earlier correspondence with the federal agency.
“All information is available at all centers,” Harting explained. Someone who filed for assistance by phone, online or at a FEMA temporary center can visit any center to discuss their claim. While the centers are located in several communities, each individual location is not site-specific.
The Farmington center had a half-dozen workers on hand. Claims assistants including Kim Moreland and Mylenna Cruz stood ready to handle requests. The group had set up shop inside the airport terminal building, but relied on a modified motorhome to house computer and other support equipment.
Workers will close up shop at the Farmington location today between 4 p.m. and 5 p.m. The Fredericktown center, located adjacent to the elementary school, will remain open next week daily from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Federal assistance became available for the region when, as a result of the severe storms, tornadoes and flooding in mid-May, President Obama signed a disaster declaration for the state of Missouri. The declaration made federal disaster assistance available to Missourians.
Registration is free, and can be done on the Internet, by phone, or by visiting a FEMA disaster center. The application process takes about 20 minutes.
While insurance is a person’s main source of funding to replace disaster losses, there may be additional costs that insurance does not cover. FEMA can often provide a low-interest disaster loan to cover expenses while an insurance claim is processed.
The U.S. Small Business Administration, SBA, offers low-interest disaster loans to homeowners, renters, businesses of all sizes and private, non-profit organizations for repair or replacement costs for disaster-related damages not fully covered by insurance or other compensation. After a presidential declaration, the SBA is the primary source of federal financial assistance. Even though the SBA is involved, the assistance is not just for business owners. The help is readily available for homeowners or renters as well.
A renter may qualify for an SBA low-interest disaster loan or a grant from FEMA to replace personal property. One type of grant may cover temporary housing needs if a renter had to move to another dwelling. Individuals or families may also be eligible for grants that help with other serious disaster-related needs and expenses not covered by insurance or other disaster assistance programs.
Even if a person received disaster assistance funds due to previous disasters, they can still register for assistance.
There is a misnomer that receiving FEMA assistance may decrease the amount of future Social Security checks. “No,” FEMA says. “FEMA assistance funds do not come out of Social Security funds and will not affect your monthly Social Security check.”
Additional information about FEMA and possible disaster benefits can be found at www.DisasterAssistance.gov.
Doug Smith is a reporter for the Daily Journal. You can reach him at 573-756-8927, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.