Disaster assistance tops $10.4 million for West Virginia survivors

One week after President Obama issued a major disaster declaration for West Virginia, more than $10.4 million has been approved for homeowners and renters affected by the severe storms, flooding, landslides and mudslides that began June 22, 2016.

That total includes more than $8.6 million in housing assistance and nearly $1.8 million in other needs assistance. More than 5,200 households and businesses have registered with FEMA to date.

Disaster assistance may include grants to help homeowners and renters pay for temporary housing, essential home repairs, personal property replacement, and serious disaster-related needs. Nearly 70 housing inspectors have completed more than 2,000 inspections of disaster-damaged properties to verify damage.

Federal disaster assistance is now available to residents of 12 counties: Clay, Fayette, Greenbrier, Jackson, Kanawha, Lincoln, Monroe, Nicholas, Pocahontas, Roane, Summers, and Webster.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) encourages all survivors who sustained disaster-related damage or losses to apply online at DisasterAssistance.gov or by phone (voice, 711 or relay service) at 800-621-3362. (TTY users should call 800-462-7585.) The toll-free lines are open 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. seven days a week. Multilingual operators are available.

In support of the State of West Virginia, FEMA has deployed 12 Disaster Survivor Assistance teams to canvass shelters and visit storm-damaged homes in hard-hit areas to register people and answer their questions about disaster assistance.

Other help available to individuals:

•The State and FEMA have opened five Disaster Recovery Centers (DRCs) in hard-hit areas, with more scheduled to open soon. The centers report 934 visitors to date. DRCs

are open 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. seven days a week until further notice. The centers will be open for the July 4th holiday.

•An easy-to-use DRC Locator is available at http://asd.fema.gov/inter/locator/home.htm

•For those who lost work as a result of the storms, Disaster Unemployment Assistance is available. For more information, visit Work Force West Virginia at workforcewv.org

•Free disaster legal assistance is available to West Virginia storm survivors. This service offers counseling on insurance claims, landlord-tenant issues, home-repair contracts, the replacement of legal documents destroyed by the storm and other legal matters. Call the toll-free hotline (877) 331-4279.

Disaster assistance grants from FEMA are not taxable income and will not affect eligibility for Social Security, Medicaid, welfare assistance, food stamps and several other programs. Disaster grants are just that—grants that do not have to be paid back to the government.

One of FEMA’s federal partners in disaster recovery, the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), offers low-interest disaster loans for businesses of all sizes, homeowners, renters and private non-profit organizations. SBA disaster loans may cover repairs, rebuilding, as well as the cost of replacing lost or disaster-damaged real estate and personal property.

For more information about SBA loans, call SBA’s Disaster Assistance Customer Service Center at 800-659-2955, email disastercustomerservice@sba.gov, or visit http://www.sba.gov/disaster. TTY users may call 800-877-8339. Applicants may also apply online using the Electronic Loan Application (ELA) via SBA’s secure website at https://disasterloan.sba.gov/ela.

For more information on the West Virginia recovery operation—including fact sheets about Individual Assistance, Public Assistance and Disaster Unemployment Assistance—visit the disaster web page at www.fema.gov/disaster/4273 and www.dhsem.wv.gov/Pages/WV-Flood-Information.aspx