By Lisa Loomis
Local property owners affected by flooding from Hurricane Irene, who have not already done so, need to register with FEMA as soon as possible.
Property owners can register online at fema.gov/assistance, by phone at 1-800-621-3362 (FEMA) or at one of the relief centers that are open in Vermont. The closest center for Valley residents is Waterbury. There are also centers in Barre, Dover, Killington, Brattleboro and one is slated to open in Rutland as well.
After registration, a FEMA inspector will come inspect the impacted property within one to two days. That inspector will assess the type of damage and the loss of personal property and belongings. People who have lost prescription drugs or lost medical equipment such as walkers and canes are eligible for coverage for those items.
Property owners will receive a determination from FEMA within 7 to 10 days explaining eligibility and the amount they will receive. People who provide bank routing information will have the money deposited into their account as soon as the determination is made.
The maximum award granted is $30,200 and 41 such grants have been made in Vermont to date. Three thousand Vermonters have registered, 2,078 inspections are scheduled and 1,261 have been completed.
“These FEMA awards are not intended to replace lost homes. They are intended to give people assistance to help them get organized again, help them rent a place and replace belongings,” explained Deanna Frazier, FEMA public affairs officer.
After the FEMA awards, people can apply to the Small Business Administration for low- and no-interest loans and can then go back to FEMA for additional grants if they are denied.
Frazier said that disaster unemployment insurance is now available for anyone who is unemployed due to the flooding. That dates back to August 27 and runs through March 3, 2012.
When contacting FEMA to register, people need to have their Social Security number, address of the damaged property, current living address and phone number, insurance information – including policy number – and bank routing information for direct deposit.
Business owners need to start with the FEMA process but will get routed to the Small Business Administration.
The Mad River Valley Community Fund is providing advocates for people who need help navigating the FEMA process. Contact the fund at 802-496-3638 or via the website mrvcommunityfund.org.