JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - People affected by Tropical Storm Debby have until midnight to apply for Federal Emergency Management Agency help.
As of Tuesday, 16,518 households had contacted FEMA for information or assistance in the 22 counties designated for federal individual assistance.
FEMA approved a total of $22.9 million in grants for individual assistance, while the U.S. Small Business Administration approved $17.1 million in loans, money that goes to businesses, homeowners and renters.
The total federal assistance after Tropical Storm Debby was $40 million.
"FEMA does not promise that it will return your home or personal property back to its pre-disaster condition," FEMA spokesman Jim Homstad said. "What FEMA assistance is intended to do is help you take those first critical steps toward recovery."
Many people don't realize they're eligible for aid, so FEMA urges them to call and ask for more information.
"When we talk to people, they have questions about their insurance, saying, 'I didn't know I had that coverage.' And then there are people who felt they didn't know the government offered these kinds of thing," said William Owens, a FEMA mitigation officer.
People can apply for a low-interest disaster loan from the U.S. Small Business Administration, which is available to businesses, homeowners and renters. Even if you don't intend to accept the loan, your application will help you qualify for other assistance, including FEMA grants that don't have to be repaid.
The application process should take 20 minutes. Then an inspector will make an appointment to come by and assess the damage.
Victims can call FEMA at 800-621-3362 or apply online at DisasterAssistance.gov. They can also download a FEMA mobile app on their smartphone.
Small Business Administration loans can be requested by calling 800-659-2955 or online at Disasterloan.sba.gov/ela. People who are deaf or hard of hearing and use a TTY can call 800-877-8339.
For more information about Small Business Administration loans, visit SBA.gov.
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