Residents of two more north-central Montana counties now may apply for assistance recovering from flood damage and problems sustained earlier this year, and the Federal Emergency Management Agency has announced a deadline for applying for individual assistance.
FEMA announced this week that residents of Blaine and Chouteau counties have been added to the list of Montanans who can apply for federal disaster assistance. Additional Disaster Recovery Centers also are opening in Fort Belknap Indian Reservation and Havre.
The agency announced Thursday that Sept. 26 is the deadline for people who sustained flood, storm and water damage between April 4 and July 22 to register for individual assistance.
“We cannot overemphasize how important it is for Montanans to register, ” Ed Tinsley, Montana Disaster and Emergency Services administrator, said in the release announcing the deadline. "Registering with FEMA could open the door to assistance for the different types of losses Montanans suffered during this disaster. ”
FEMA reported Thursday that more than 1,860 individuals and families in Montana have registered with the agency, and nearly $3.8 million has been approved for individual assistance grants.
More than $17.8 million in grants also are being processed for public assistance payment to governmental entities and eligible nonprofit organizations, bringing the total flood-related assistance to more than $21.6 million so far.
President Barack Obama declared a major disaster declaration for Montana on June 17. It was amended on July 26 to include 16 counties and three reservations for individual assistance. Now a total of 31 counties and four reservations are eligible for individual assistance.
“We are pleased with the addition of these 15 counties and one reservation to the disaster declaration, ” Gov. Brian Schweitzer said in the release announcing the additional eligible entities. “The residents in these areas need the assistance these disaster programs can provide while they recover. ”
“Even if you registered with the state or your county, you still need to register specifically with FEMA to be eligible for assistance, ” said Tinsley. “FEMA assistance is available for recovery costs such as housing assistance, personal property, vehicle repair or replacement, and moving and storage expenses. ”
Hill County and the Fort Belknap Indian Reservation were included in the original individual assistance declaration.
Two Disaster Recovery Centers are opening over the weekend to help people through the disaster assistance process.
One center will open today at 1 p. m. in Fort Belknap Agency and close Sunday at 7 p. m. to relocate to Hays. The Hays Center will open Monday at 1 p. m. and close on Thursday at noon.
A center will open in Havre Sunday at 1 p. m. and close at 7 p. m. Tuesday.
Emergency management experts from the Federal Emergency Management Agency are at the centers to explain disaster assistance programs and answer questions face to face. Small Business Administration loan specialists will be at the center to answer questions and accept loan applications.
Before visiting a center, people with storm-related losses should register with FEMA by calling (800) 621-FEMA (3362) or going online at www.DisasterAssistance.gov. Help is available in most languages. Those with a speech disability or hearing loss can call (TTY) (800) 462-7585.
Aid could be available to people whose property suffered damage or their businesses suffered losses due to flood damage or water seeping into buildings, but Helena-based Federal Coordinating Officer Doug Mayne said they must register with FEMA as the first step.
“We want Montanans to register and get federal help as they recover from the flooding. Assistance isn't guaranteed, but if you don't register, it's guaranteed you won't get any assistance, ” he said.
FEMA's Individual Assistance program includes a wide range of help, including emergency home repair, temporary disaster housing, replacement grants for serious disaster-related needs and expenses not covered by insurance or other assistance programs. For those insured, the government may help pay for basic needs not covered by insurance.
Applicants need to have specific information available when applying for assistance: Their current telephone number; address at the time of the disaster and current address; Social Security number, if available; a general list of damages and losses suffered; in cases where the applicant is insured, the names of the company and agent, as well as the policy number; and bank account coding for those who wish to speed up assistance by using direct deposit.
FEMA disaster assistance covers basic needs only and typically does not compensate eligible applicants for their entire losses. FEMA disaster aid is generally offered in the form of grants that do not have to be paid back.
The Small Business Administration offers low-interest disaster loans for homeowners, renters and businesses of all sizes to repair or replace damaged or destroyed private property. SBA also offers Economic Injury Disaster Loans, low-interest working capital loans to small businesses and most private, nonprofit organizations.