Press Release: October 25, 2011

FEDERAL DISASTER HELP TOPS $34 MILLION IN VERMONT

BURLINGTON, VT –Although the road to the Green Mountain State’s full recovery from the devastation of Tropical Storm Irene will be a long one, much progress has already been made. Recovery is being supported by $34.6 million in federal disaster grants and low-interest loans to Vermont residents and businesses.

At the request of Gov. Peter Shumlin, the Federal Emergency Management Agency has extended the registration deadline. Nov. 15 is the new deadline to register for federal disaster assistance. This replaces the prior deadline of Oct. 31.

Individuals and families have received more than $18.5 million in grants for housing repairs, rent for temporary housing and other assistance. More than $16.1 million in low-interest disaster recovery loans has been approved for homeowners and businesses by the U.S. Small Business Administration.

Following is a snapshot of disaster assistance at close of business Oct. 23:
· 6,619 registrations have been received.

· 3,198 Vermonters have been given housing assistance, and 134 have received the maximum available grant of $30,200. The average housing award is $5,543.

· 1,322 Vermonters have been given temporary rental assistance.

· There are six inspectors in the field and 4,500 property inspections to document damage have been completed. The average turnaround time for applicants to receive inspections after registering is slightly more than two days.

· The SBA has sent 5,842 disaster loan applications to homeowners, renters and businesses in Vermont. To date 842 have been returned to SBA and 276 applications totaling more than $16.1 million have been approved.
· There have been 3,959 visits to Disaster Recovery Centers.

State and federal recovery officials stress that many resources are available to help individuals recover, including:

· Disaster Recovery Centers are open in Dover and Waterbury. Visiting a center is not necessary to receive disaster assistance, but is an option for those who would like to speak in person with recovery specialist. For locations go towww.fema.gov/drclocator.

· Registration for Assistance: A call to 2-1-1 is not the same as registering with FEMA. These are the only ways to register with FEMA: Call 800-621-FEMA (3362). If you use a TTY, call 800-462-7585 directly; if you use 711 or Video Relay Service (VRS), call 800-621-3362. Register online at www.DisasterAssistance.gov or at FEMA’s mobile website,m.fema.gov. Online registration allows you to check the progress of your application online.

· Importance of SBA Loan Application: After a designated federal disaster, SBA makes low interest loans not just to small businesses but also to homeowners, renters, businesses of all sizes, and eligible non-profits. FEMA cannot give grants to cover lost personal property, vehicle damage or moving and storage expenses to anyone who has been asked to submit a loan application to SBA but fails to do so.

If the SBA approves a loan, no one is required to accept it, but having it available increases resources for recovery. For more information, call 800-659-2955 (800-877-8339 for people with speech or hearing disabilities). Applications can be downloaded from www.sba.gov or completed online at https://disasterloan.sba.gov/ele/. The SBA provides in-person help at five centers throughout the state. To locate a center go to http://tinyurl.com/5vqwo5k.

· Rental Assistance from FEMA: Anyone who was displaced from their home by the storm may be eligible for a grant from FEMA to pay for a rental. People who initially told FEMA they did not need rental assistance may report to FEMA that their circumstances have changed and ask for rental assistance. Call the FEMA Helpline at 800-621-FEMA (3362) to find out more.

· Legal Services: Free legal advice is available to those with legal issues or questions due to Tropical Storm Irene. Call 800-889-2047. Legal assistance may include help with insurance claims, home repair contractors, building permits, replacement of lost legal documents and counseling on mortgage-foreclosure problems and landlord/tenant problems.

· Crisis Support. Washington County Mental Health Services is coordinating a program called “Starting Over Strong” that works with mental health agencies and local organizations to provide crisis support to affected individuals throughout the state. For more information about the program call 855-SOS-VT00 (855-767-8800).

· Help with Insurance Questions: For questions regarding insurance matters, contact the Consumer Services Division at the Department of Banking, Insurance, and Securities & Health Care Administration at 800-964-1784 in state or 802-828-3302out of state.

· Disaster Unemployment Assistance is available to those who became permanently or temporarily unemployed because of the disaster, including the self-employed. Call the Vermont Department of Labor’s Claim Assistance Line, 877-214-3330, before the November 21, 2011, deadline.

· Renters – not just homeowners – who had damage due to the storm are encouraged to register with FEMA. Renters may receive grants to replace lost property or if they were displaced from their homes, they may be eligible for temporary rental assistance.

· Well and Septic Repair assistance is available for those whose wells were contaminated or septic systems damaged because of flooding, including repair or replacement.

FEMA’s mission is to support our citizens and first responders to ensure that as a nation we work together to build, sustain, and improve our capability to prepare for, protect against, respond to, recover from, and mitigate all hazards.

Disaster recovery assistance is available without regard to race, color, religion, nationality, sex, age, disability, English proficiency or economic status. If you or someone you know has been discriminated against, call FEMA toll-free at 800-621-FEMA (3362). For TTY call 800-462-7585; or call 800-621-3362 if using 711 or Video Relay Service (VRS).

FEMA’s temporary housing assistance and grants for public transportation expenses, medical and dental expenses, and funeral and burial expenses do not require individuals to apply for an SBA loan. However, applicants who receive SBA loan applications must submit them to SBA either through the U.S. Mail, online at https://disasterloan.sba.gov/ela/., or to their local Disaster Recovery Center to be eligible for assistance that covers personal property, vehicle repair or replacement, and moving and storage expenses.

SBA disaster loan information and application forms may be obtained by calling the SBA’s Customer Service Center at 800-659-2955 (800-877-8339 for people with speech or hearing disabilities) Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. ET; Saturday and Sunday from 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. ET or by sending an e-mail to disastercustomerservice@sba.gov. Applications can also be downloaded from www.sba.gov or completed on-line at https://disasterloan.sba.gov/ela/.

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