The deadline to apply for federal assistance for losses or damages from Hurricane Matthew is Friday.
During a press conference Friday afternoon at Hinesville City Hall, Mayor Allen Brown said it was imperative that folks heed the deadlines dates if they need assistance.
"It is personal to me that we give our citizens all of the resources and assistance that is available to them," Brown said.
Assistance provided by the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the U.S. Small Business Administration may be used for homes, property and businesses that sustained losses or damages from the category two storm that ripped through Liberty County Oct. 7.
The deadline to apply for FEMA and SBA disaster loans is Dec. 16.
FEMA representative Gary Petty said the first step is to apply for FEMA assistance.
"You can register one of four ways," he explained. "You could go to the Disaster Recovery Center in Savannah. They can also go online and apply at disasterassistance.gov. They can call 1-800-621-3362 or they can download the FEMA app (for the smart phones) and register that way as well."
Petty said there is only one DRC open in the state. It is located at Savannah Technical College, 5717 White Bluff Road, Savannah.
He said there is also assistance available through FEMA for folks that may need counseling due to stressors from the storm.
When applying, be prepared to provide your social security number, the address of the damaged property and a phone number where you may be contacted.
After registering you will receive a FEMA file number and possibly also be referred to the SBA.
Petty said after registering a FEMA damage assessor will contact you to make an appointment to visit and asses the damages you are claiming.
"It will be just a few days after you register," he said about the assessors.
He added that the assessor will not ask for personal information other than to show proof of homeownership. The homeowner meeting with the assessor must be at least 18 years old.
Petty said those who register should hear back from FEMA within 14 days. If not they should follow up with FEMA to inquire about their registration status.
He added that FEMA also provides assistance to renters who may need help in finding temporary shelter or funding for hotel stays after being displaced from their rented home.
He added that if a person has received a termination letter from FEMA, they should still follow up with a representative of the agency to see if there are still other options.
"If they have any questions about that termination letter please call us," he said. "Sometimes there might be missing information or we may need more insurance information."
During the press conference SBA Public Affairs Specialist Demetria Clark reported that $7 million in SBA disaster loans have been approved in the declared areas of Georgia. Those declared areas include Bryan, Bulloch, Chatham, Effingham, Evans, Glynn, Liberty, Long, McIntosh and Wayne counties.
Clark said people are often misled by the name of their agency.
"Our disaster loans are available to businesses of any size but also to private non-profits, such as churches, as well as homeowners and renters," Clark said. "And we have two types of loans. One is the physical damage loan…which has the same Dec. 16, deadline as FEMA.
That loans helps to cover damaged to real estate up to $200,000 and personal property such as furniture, cars and clothing up to $40,000. We also have economic injury loans available to businesses and non-profits. And those are for working capital and covers some of those expenses that would have been paid had the disaster not occurred…payroll, utility bills and such."
People can apply for the SBA loan by calling 1-800-659-2955 or apply online at: https://disasterloan.sba.gov/ela.
Clark said the entire process, from application to disbursement is about three weeks.
SBA Public Affairs Specialist Ray Harbour added that the most important thing to do first is register with FEAM and then go ahead and apply for the SBA.
"The deadline is Dec. 16 but our advice to you all today is don’t wait for that deadline," she said. "Go ahead and apply today…also don’t wait for those insurance settlements…don’t wait for those insurance negotiations. Register with FEMA and apply for a SBA disaster loan. If you are approved for that loan you can put it on hold and have six months to activate it. That way the Dec. 16 deadline doesn’t even apply to you. You are in the system and you just extended your deadline for six months. There is no fee for applying. There is no fee for cancelling the loan and there is no fee for using your insurance benefits to pay down that loan. That is a great way to maximize your benefits."
As the FEMA and SBA loan program deadlines looms one contract service has already reached the end point.
According to the Liberty County Office of Emergency Management CrowderGulf, the contractor that was hired by the county to remove hurricane debris, stopped picking working alongside state highways Thursday.
The officials at L-EMA said they were notified that Georgia Department of Transportation hired a debris contractor to pick up debris that is on all state roads, as well as the "leaners and hangers" over the roads.
Beginning Monday the G-DOT contractor will begin to remove debris along the state roads which include Interstate 95, U.S. Highway 17, E.B. Cooper Highway, Talmadge Road, Airport Road, all of Highway 196, West General Screven Way, West General Stewart Way, Veterans Parkway, all of Oglethorpe Highway and Leroy Coffer highway.