UPDATE: FEMA Representatives will be in Liberty County to help applicants apply for individual assistance in person:
Saturday Oct. 29, and Monday Oct. 31 from 7 a.m. until 7 p.m., and Sunday Oct. 30 from 1 p.m. until 5 p.m. FEMA will be at Mt. Zion Church, 1370 Shaw Road, Hinesville, GA 31313.
Earlier reports stated that FEMA would also set up a disaster recovery center in Midway but that is no longer confirmed by FEMA representatives.
Both Liberty and Long counties have been approved for individual financial assistance by the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
But it’s not as cut and dried as all that.
The amended "declaration of major disaster" issued Monday afternoon means homeowners and business owners may now be eligible to receive funds to help defray the cost of damage to homes, properties or businesses due to Hurricane Matthew.
It is important, to note however, that FEMA assistance may come in the form of either a grant or loan. Also FEMA aid may only be considered if you are uninsured or your current insurance does not cover all of your losses.
Before filing any claims with FEMA you should file a claim with your insurance company. Your insurance agent will inform you of what they will and will not cover, which may fit the requirement in receiving FEMA Individuals and Households Program Assistance (IHP).
According to FEMA IHP consists of two provisions, housing assistance, and other needs assistance.
According to the FEMA document HA covers the following:
• Rental assistance: Financial assistance to homeowners and renters to secure temporary housing while repairs are being made to their pre-disaster primary residence or while they transition to permanent housing. Applicants may use this help to rent a house, apartment, manufactured home, recreational vehicle, or other readily-fabricated dwelling.
• Direct temporary housing assistance: Direct assistance with rental units or manufactured housing units provided to homeowners or renters for temporary use. FEMA only implements direct temporary housing assistance when there isn’t adequate alternate housing. The impacted government must request such help and FEMA must approve it.
• Repair: Financial assistance to help homeowners repair disaster-caused damage to their primary residence not covered by insurance or provided by any other source. The assistance is intended to repair the home to a safe and sanitary living or functioning condition.
Items covered for repair include the following:
• Foundation and roof
• Windows and doors
• Floors, walls, and ceilings
• Septic or sewage system
• Well or other water system
• Heating, ventilating, and air conditioning system
• Electrical, plumbing, and gas systems
• Entrance and exit ways from the home, including privately
owned access roads.
Replacement: Financial assistance to help homeowners replace an uninsured or underinsured disasterdamaged home.
ONA provides assistance to the following:
Medical/dental: Financial help to pay for disaster-related medical and dental expenses including hospital and ambulance services and the replacement or purchase of medication or personal medical or dental equipment.
Funeral: Help to pay for expenses incurred for a disaster-related death or disinterment. Eligible expenses include the cost of a casket or urn, burial plot or cremation niche, re-interment, and funeral services.
Child care: Financial assistance to pay for a disaster-related increase in financial burden for child care. Eligible expenses include child care costs for children ages 13 and under and children ages 14 to 18 who need help caring for themselves with a disablity as defined by federal law.
Miscellaneous: Financial assistance for items purchased or rented after a disaster to assist with the applicant’s disaster recovery, such as gaining access to the property or assisting with cleaning efforts. Eligible items may include a chainsaw, air purifier, or dehumidifier.
Personal property: Financial assistance to repair or replace essential household items including, but not limited to, furnishings and appliances, accessibility items defined within the Americans with Disabilities Act, and specialized tools and protective clothing required by an employer.
Transportation: Financial aid to repair or replace a vehicle damaged by the disaster and other transportation-related costs.
Moving and storage: Financial assistance to relocate and store personal property from the damaged primary residence while repairs are being made to return the property to the primary residence.
According to the FEMA fact sheet, in some instances an applicant may be required to apply for a low interest disaster loan from the Small Business Administration (SBA) prior to being considered for certain types of ONA This applies to personal property assistance, transportation assistance, and moving and storage expenses.
Disaster survivors must meet the following criteria to be considered for IHP assistance:
• Disaster losses are in a Presidentially declared disaster area;
• A member of the household must be a United States citizen, a noncitizen national, or a qualified alien;
• The damaged home is where the applicant lives the majority of the year;
• The damaged home is inaccessible or not livable due to the disaster; and
• The disaster survivor has necessary expenses or serious needs as a result of the disaster that are not covered by insurance or any other source.
Additional financial assistance is available to declared areas through the Home Disaster Loan or Business Physical Disaster Loan offered by the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA).
SBA regulations limit home loans to $200,000 for the repair or replacement of real estate and $40,000 to repair or replace personal property. Subject to these maximums, loan amounts cannot exceed the verified uninsured disaster loss.
Only uninsured or otherwise uncompensated disaster losses are eligible. Any insurance proceeds which are required to be applied against outstanding mortgages are not available to fund disaster repairs and do not reduce loan eligibility. However, any insurance proceeds voluntarily applied to any outstanding mortgages do reduce loan eligibility.
The first step is to file a claim with your insurance company. Once that is done then residents in Liberty County or Long County who suffered loss or damage from Hurricane Matthew can register for Individual Assistance at www.DisasterAssistance.gov or call 1-800-621-3362. If you use TTY, call 1-800-462-7585.
That site provides step by step guidance on how to file with FEMA or where to find local resources and assistance.
For more information on resources available to those affected by Hurricane Matth