FEMA designates 7 Georgia counties for individual assistance

4 Florida counties now also eligible for federal funds

The Federal Emergency Management Agency amended its major disaster declaration to include Individual Assistance for Glynn, Bryan, Bulloch, Chatham, Effingham, McIntosh and Wayne counties.

President Barack Obama’s Oct. 8 major disaster declaration for Georgia was also amended to approve the Individual Assistance program for St. Johns, Flagler, Putnam and Volusia counties to assist residents with expenses related to Hurricane Matthew.

A major disaster declaration from the federal government opens up federal resources to help impacted communities.

FEMA’s program is called the Individuals and Households Program. It provides up to $33,000 to be used for both housing assistance and other needs, including personal property. People in the affected areas can apply online.

FEMA is continuing to survey additional counties along Florida’s east coast to determine if Individual Assistance and Public Assistance will be made available to families and businesses in those counties. There is no estimated time when FEMA will determine if assistance will be made available to families and businesses in those counties. 

"Having seen the devastation from Hurricane Matthew with my own eyes, this additional federal assistance is absolutely necessary to repair our community," said U.S. Rep. Buddy Carter, R-Savannah. "I appreciate the answer to my call to increase the types of assistance available to Coastal Georgians and I will continue working to get additional assistance and expand the disaster declaration."

FEMA housing assistance can be used for the following:

  • Temporary housing, including rent money or a temporary housing unit when no rentals are available
  • Repair for damages that are not covered by insurance to repair the primary home to a safe and sanitary living or functioning condition. Homeowners may then apply for a Small Business Administration disaster loan for additional repair assistance, replacement and semi-permanent or permanent housing construction.

Other Needs Assistance provides grants for uninsured, disaster-related necessary expenses and serious needs.

The grant money can be used for the following:

  • Medical and dental expenses
  • Repair, cleaning or replacement of clothing, furnishings and appliances, specialized tools and protective clothing required for the individual’s job, and educational materials
  • Cleanup items such as fuel for clean up
  • Repair or replacing damaged vehicles or money for public transportation
  • Moving and storage expenses
  • The cost of National Flood Insurance Program group flood insurance policy to meet the flood insurance requirements.

There are some conditions and qualifications attached to the individuals and households program, such as the requirement for flood insurance and residency status. Those applying for assistance are responsible for providing the proper documentation for FEMA to evaluate eligibility.

Disaster relief expert Scott Mager said that in order for survivors to be approved, they still have to apply for the funding help and provide the government with supporting documents like a home inspection. If approved, Mager explained it could take as many as 10 days for the money to come through.

Mager recommended skipping the online process altogether. He suggested either calling FEMA directly or printing out the forms and mailing them in.

Mager also said owners of homes and businesses should consider hiring a lawyer to make sure they get what they should -- not only from their personal insurance companies but also FEMA.

Information for FEMA assistance

  • Website: http://disasterassistance.gov
  • On the FEMA mobile app
  • Link to send email: https://www.fema.gov/webform/disaster-assistance
  • Phone number: 1-800-621-FEMA (1-800-621-3362) 
  • Applicants who use 711 or video relay service may also call 800-621-3362. People who are deaf, hard of hearing or have a speech disability and use a TTY can call 1-800-462-7585.
  • The toll-free numbers are open from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m., seven days a week.
  • Multilingual operators are available. Press 2 for Spanish, and press 3 for other languages. 
  • Mailing Address:
    P.O. Box 10055
    Hyattsville, MD 20782-8055
  • Find a FEMA assistance center near you: http://asd.fema.gov/inter/locator/home.htm

Click here for more information on FEMA’s Individuals and Households Program.

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