Register for disaster aid by Tuesday

March 27, 2009

By Warren Kagarise

NEW — 6 a.m. March 27, 2009

Residents affected by severe January weather – which caused Issaquah and Tibbetts creeks to flood – must register by Tuesday to be eligible for federal and state disaster assistance.

Call 800-621-3362 toll-free to register with the Federal Emergency Management Agency. FEMA operates a line for hearing-impaired disaster victims at 800-462-7585 toll-free. Phone lines are open every day from 8 a.m. – 8 p.m.

Go here to register online. Applicants can then track the status of their cases by calling the FEMA Helpline at 800-621-FEMA toll-free or on the Web site.

March 31 is also the deadline for homeowners, renters and businesses to return completed disaster loan applications to the U.S. Small Business Administration. Being denied a loan from the agency is a prerequisite for homeowners and renters to receive certain types of federal and state grants. Residents with disaster damage are urged to submit an application — even if they do not want the loan.

“Too many people deny themselves extra assistance by failing to turn in an SBA loan application,” FEMA State Coordinating Officer Kurt Hardin said in a news release. “Even if a homeowner or renter does not want a loan, they should return the application. It is not necessary to take out a loan if accepted, and further assistance is impossible if they do not.”

Homeowners may borrow up to $200,000 from the SBA to repair or replace their primary residence. Homeowners and renters may borrow up to $40,000 to replace personal property. Businesses may borrow up to $2 million for any combination of property damage or economic injury.

All King County residents are eligible to apply for disaster assistance. Aid is also available to residents of Benton, Cowlitz, Clallam, Grays Harbor, Kittitas, Lewis, Mason, Pacific, Pierce, Skagit, Snohomish, Thurston, Wahkiakum and Whatcom counties. King County and several others were declared federal disaster areas in the aftermath of January’s severe winter weather.

“Maybe some have not registered because they have insurance and assume they are not eligible for FEMA assistance,” Federal Coordinating Officer Willie Nunn said in the release. “It costs nothing to register, and it is the only way to find out if assistance is available.”

Nunn said residents don’t need to wait for an insurance settlement before registering. FEMA will not make a final determination of eligibility until all insurance claims have been settled, according to the release.

From Feb. 18-28, the disaster-relief agencies opened a temporary Disaster Relief Center at City Hall to answer questions about federal aid and to help disaster victims register for assistance.

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