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Wednesday, 11 January 2017 00:00

FEMA, SBA continue recovery efforts for Virginia hurricane survivors

FEMA LogoVIRGINIA BEACH, Va. – It has been over two months since disaster assistance personnel from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) deployed to Virginia in response to President Obama’s major disaster declaration of Nov. 2, 2016. The president’s signature on the decree made federal assistance available to eligible survivors affected by Hurricane Matthew in seven independent cities for individual assistance.

Although the deadline for registering for individual financial assistance from FEMA has passed, the recovery continues. Survivors affected by Hurricane Matthew, who have registered for FEMA assistance, still have access to the agency for information about temporary housing, help with insurance claims, questions about filing an appeal, and other disaster services and resources.

Registered individuals have access to FEMA’s toll-free Helpline, seven days a week, 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. EDT. Call 800-621-3362 (TTY users should call 800-462-7585). Multilingual operators are available.

Applicants receiving temporary rental assistance and who have a need for continuing housing assistance must apply to FEMA for approval. FEMA will evaluate the information to determine if the applicant qualifies for ongoing federal rental assistance, based on financial need. Contact the FEMA Helpline for information on how to apply.

FEMA urges registered individuals to “keep in touch” and notify FEMA of address or phone number changes, initiate appeals or reschedule inspection appointments. It is important to keep all contact information current to avoid delays in getting assistance.

As of the Jan. 3 deadline, 5576 Virginia homeowners and renters have applied to FEMA for disaster assistance. To date more than $7.4 million in individual housing assistance grants and nearly $1.6 million in other needs assistance have been approved for residents of the 7 designated cities: Chesapeake, Hampton, Newport News, Norfolk, Portsmouth, Suffolk and Virginia Beach.

Since the Nov. 2 disaster declaration, the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), one of FEMA’s partners in disaster recovery, has approved 399 low-interest disaster loans totaling nearly $13.4 million. SBA offers low-interest disaster loans to homeowners and renters who have applied for FEMA assistance, as well as to businesses of all sizes and private nonprofit organizations. SBA disaster loans may cover the cost of repairing, rebuilding or 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. (TTY users should call 800-877-8339). Individuals and businesses may also email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., or visit http://www.sba.gov/disaster.

In addition to the FEMA grants, and SBA loans, the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) has paid out $46.8 million to 2263 claimants to settle Flood Insurance Claims. Several of the claims were outside of the Special Flood Hazard Area (SFHA) proving to be a good investment for homeowners who suffered flooding damages. Homeowners and renters who purchased insurance through NFIP were able to find affordable Preferred Risk Policies that cover homes not located in a SFHA. Flood insurance continues to be the best tool for recovering financially from a flooding disaster for both homeowners and renters.

The Commonwealth’s and FEMA’s 6 Disaster Recovery Centers (DRCs) served 3,051 visitors between Nov. 7 and Jan. 3, while FEMA-contracted housing inspectors have completed more than 4,052 inspections of disaster-damaged properties to verify damage.

The Public Assistance Program, which aids local governments and certain nonprofits was also approved for this disaster. Eligible projects are reimbursed not less than 75 percent of their costs for uninsured damages to infrastructure and certain emergency response costs. The eligible cities are Chesapeake, Franklin, Norfolk, Portsmouth, Suffolk, Virginia Beach, Hampton, and the counties of Isle of Wight and Southampton. The Virginia Department of Emergency Management is working closely with FEMA to develop costs for the eligible reimbursements. Applicants have six months from the date of the declaration to identify all projects for reimbursement consideration.

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FEMA’s mission is to support our citizens and first responders to ensure that as a nation we work together to build, sustain, and improve our capability to prepare for, protect against, respond to, recover from, and mitigate all hazards.

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 800-621-3362 (voice, 711 or video relay service). TTY users can call 800-462-7585.

The SBA is the federal government’s primary source of money for the long-term rebuilding and recovery. SBA helps businesses of all sizes, private non-profit organizations, homeowners and renters fund repairs or rebuilding efforts and can cover the cost of replacing losses of disaster-damaged real estate and personal property. These disaster loans cover losses not fully compensated by insurance or other recoveries and do not duplicate benefits of other agencies or organizations.