FEMA deadline Nov. 15

ADDISON COUNTY — Social service agencies are alerting area residents that there is still time to apply for federal assistance if they were affected by Tropical Storm Irene. And they say those who are unsure if they qualify for financial assistance should file now and let the agencies decide later if aid is forthcoming.
“It’s possible that insurance will not cover the damage,” said Beth Diamond, regional resource specialist with Vermont 2-1-1, a project of the Vermont United Ways. “Renters should still file.
“If people don’t file, they’re out of luck,” the Middlebury resident added.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency has extended to the deadline for individuals and municipalities to apply for federal disaster assistance. Anyone seeking financial help for recovery from damages relating to Tropical Storm Irene has until Nov. 15 to apply to federal agencies (the original deadline was Oct. 31).
Individual homeowners, renters, businesses, or others who suffered losses as a result of flooding at the end of August are eligible for assistance to repair their homes or to recover other losses. Even if damage is minor, or if a person is unsure whether damage will be covered by federal grants, individuals should apply as soon as possible.
To register for Individual Assistance disaster aid, call 1-800-621-FEMA (3362). Those with a speech disability or hearing loss who use a TTY can call 800-462-7585 directly, or 800-621-3362, if using 711 or Video Relay Service.
Registration can also be done online anytime at www.DisasterAssistance.gov or through web-enabled mobile phone devices or smartphones at m.fema.gov.
Communities that suffered damage in the floods should submit their application to the Vermont Agency of Transportation.
Diamond pointed out that when people filed their original FEMA applications they got a packet from the Small Business Administration. Although residents who don’t own businesses may think they don’t qualify for SBA aid, they may be wrong, Diamond said.
“The SBA is giving low-interest loans to homeowners,” she said. “Apply for a loan. If they OK you for one and you don’t need it, you don’t have to take it.”
Diamond reminded people who reported damage to Vermont 2-1-1 that they still have to file with FEMA.
“Even if you already repaired the damage doesn’t mean you’re not qualified for grants,” Diamond said, noting that the homeowners must keep receipts from the repairs they performed.
“If in doubt, file a FEMA application,” she said.
The Vermont Department of Labor earlier this month announced that the U.S. Department of Labor has approved Vermont’s request to extend the filing deadline for Individual Disaster Unemployment Assistance to Nov. 21.
The covered disaster assistance period continues to begin on Aug. 27 and end on March 3. The first payable week remains the week ending Sept. 3. An individual must be continuously unemployed as a direct result of the disaster in order to continue to receive Disaster Unemployment Assistance. If eligible, he or she can collect benefits for the weeks during which they meet the necessary criteria. Individuals who experience temporary job loss as a result of the disaster and who do not qualify for State Unemployment Insurance Benefits, such as self-employed individuals, may also be eligible for Disaster Unemployment Assistance.

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