Disaster Assistance Tops $3.1 Million for Virginia Survivors

November 10, 2016  //  

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. – One week after President Obama issued a major disaster declaration for the Commonwealth of Virginia, more than $3.1 million has been approved for homeowners and renters affected by Hurricane Matthew on Oct. 7, 2016.

This assistance comes in the form of federal grants to individuals and households as part of a joint effort by the Virginia Department of Emergency Management (VDEM) and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) officials. More than 1,970 households have applied to FEMA for disaster grants for homeowners and renters. Assistance is currently available to residents in four cities, Chesapeake, Newport News, Norfolk, and Virginia Beach.

Disaster assistance for individuals may include grants to help homeowners and renters with temporary housing, essential home repairs, personal property replacement, and serious disaster-related needs. Disaster assistance grants from FEMA are not taxable income and will not affect eligibility for Social Security, Medicare, and other federal programs. Grants do not have to be repaid to the federal government and do not count as taxable income.

FEMA-contracted housing inspectors have completed more than 1,035 inspections of disaster-damaged properties to verify damage.

Although $3.1 million has been approved in FEMA grants, flood insurance policies have paid more than $12.3 million to those who were covered by flood insurance. To date 2,179 claims have been filed.

Everyone in the disaster declared municipalities is eligible to buy flood insurance, whether they are a business owner, reside in, rent, or own a primary or secondary residence inside or outside a high risk or special flood hazard area. Even condominium complexes can purchase flood insurance. Flood insurance is the best tool for economic recovery after a flood event.

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.

Registering with FEMA is the first step in qualifying for disaster assistance. January 3, 2017 is the deadline for survivors to file an application. FEMA encourages all survivors who sustained disaster-related damage or losses to apply by phone (voice, 711 or relay service) at 800-621-3622. TTY users should call 800-462-7585. Go online at DisasterAssistance.gov. The toll-free lines are open 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. seven days a week. Multilingual operators are available.

The Commonwealth and FEMA operate Disaster Recovery Centers (DRCs) in Chesapeake, Norfolk and Virginia Beach. DRCs are open Monday through Sunday, 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.  An easy-to-use DRC Locator is available online at //asd.fema.gov/inter/locator/home.htm.

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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.

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 loan officers to be eligible for assistance that covers personal property, vehicle repair or replacement, and moving and storage expenses.

Be ready. Be willing to help.

Virginia Disaster Relief Fund