FEMA to provide Missouri residents with disaster relief

Wednesday, November 26, 2008 | 5:37 p.m. CST

The Federal Emergency Management Administration has approved more than $2 million in disaster aid in grants for Missouri resident as of Tuesday, a spokesman said Wednesday.

Aid became available to Missouri on Nov. 13 after President Bush declared a major disaster in Missouri for the severe storms, flooding and tornadoes that hit the state from Sept. 11 to Sept. 24.

In early November, FEMA sent community relations specialists to 15 Missouri counties and the city of St. Louis to inform residents who suffered storm damage in September about their eligibility for federal assistance.

Federal disaster recovery officials were sent to Boone, Callaway, Chariton, Lewis, Lincoln, Linn, Marion, Osage, Schuyler, St. Charles, St. Louis, Stone, Taney, Texas and Webster counties, as well as St. Louis.

The specialists will visit communities as well as individual residences in an effort to increase the number of applications for federal assistance.

“They go out and knock on doors,” said Kerry Sullivan, a FEMA spokesman.

The specialists are expected to be in the field for 4 to 6 weeks. However, Sullivan said there is no set time limit for the outreach.

“We don’t want anybody to not be fully aware,” Sullivan said. “We’ll be there as long as we’re needed.”

As of Nov. 25, about 1,700 people have applied.

According to a FEMA news release on Nov. 13, several types of individual assistance programs are available, including:

  • Rental payments for temporary housing
  • Grants for home repairs and replacement of essential household items
  • Grants to replace personal property and help meet medical, dental, funeral, transportation and other serious disaster-related needs
  • Unemployment payments up to 26 weeks
  • Low-interest loans to cover residential losses
  • Loans for small businesses that suffered disaster-related cash flow problems

FEMA is encouraging people who were affected by the storms to register for aid even if they have insurance, as it may not cover all expenses.

“FEMA is a supplement to insurance,” Sullivan said.

Sullivan said the biggest hindrance in the aid disbursement process is that people do not have proper insurance documentation. People who apply for federal assistance must first file claims with their insurance agencies, as well as have records of the expenses they wish to be reimbursed for.

Beginning Wednesday, residents can contact the Missouri Bar at 1-800-829-4128 with any basic legal questions relating to the disaster.

Missouri residents can apply for federal aid online or by calling 1-800-621-3362. The deadline to apply for individual assistance is Jan. 12, 2009.

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