Following the devastating storms and tornadoes that ripped through Western Kentucky on Dec. 10 and a disaster declaration put into effect, the Federal Management Emergency Agency and the Small Business Administration have worked diligently to provide funds for communities across the state.

FEMA has recently approved more than $9.6 million for individuals and households to help survivors start their recovery and rebuilding process.

FEMA Media Relations Specialist for Christian County La-Tanga Hopes shared with the New Era that more than 700 people have already registered with FEMA and are in the process of receiving assistance.

However, the deadlines for both FEMA assistance and SBA loans are fast approaching, with both a little under just a month away. The deadline for FEMA disaster assistance is Feb. 11.

Hopes stated that it is imperative that anyone needing assistance apply for assistance through either FEMA or SBA as quickly as possible.

Hopes shared that applying sooner rather than later is best in case those who apply are denied assistance.

“That gives you time that should you end up getting a denial letter, we can work through that process,” Hopes said. “That gives you time that if we need to deal with other needs, we can assess that information. Should we need to send you to a Volunteer Agency Liaison Team, we can get you and facilitate some different products that we offer to make them all available to you. And, it’s important that you get your application in so that those things can be followed through with.”

Hope added that there is also an appeal process that someone who is denied assistance can work through and the more time available prior to the deadline date is best, in order to maximize time to appeal a denial. She stated that applicants can also appeal a denial twice.

However, the first thing someone affected by the storms should do is contact their insurance company if they are insured. FEMA, though, will help applicants who discover they are under-insured or those who are not insured.

While FEMA is offering assistance state-wide, Hope shared that more specifically for Christian County, FEMA is offering funding assisting to restore a family’s home and to ensure that you have a “protective domicile,” in other words a safe, sanitary and livable home.

“So, people that are in Christian County whose homes may have been impacted by the disaster, by the tornado, subsequent winds, straight-line winds, rain — any of those things that have impacted your home based on the fact that this tornado touched down, you should consider coming in (to FEMA),” Hopes said.

“The reason why this is important is because we’ve found that Christian County was not as heavily impacted as some of the other areas, but it does not mean they did not receive damages.”

With that said, Hopes explained that FEMA is encouraging homeowners to take a slow walk around their home and look specifically in the cracks and crevices of their homes to see if their homes had shifted due to the strong winds that came along with the storms and tornado.

If there is damage that indicates a home has shifted, Hopes said those homeowners should contact FEMA and apply for assistance.

FEMA is also offering assistance to renters, not just homeowners, and Hope encourages Christian County renters that feel they were impacted by the storms should also apply for FEMA assistance.

She shared that renters may also qualify for a grant for uninsured essential personal property losses and other disaster-related expenses.

FEMA is also offering Direct Temporary Housing Assistance to those that have lost their homes or their home is not safe to currently live in.

The SBA is also offering homeowners and those affected by the Dec. 10 tornado loan assistance regardless if an individual owns a business.

Hope shared that often when someone contacts FEMA for assistance, they are directed to SBA who may be able to help that person more than FEMA could at that time. However, Hope said that does not mean that if SBA cannot help that individual, that those people could not return to FEMA to seek assistance.

“Even if you end up not being accepted to be able to apply for (an SBA) loan and to get it, they will probably send you back to the FEMA agency, where we would then be able to look and see if we can apply other needs funding to their case and make funds available through that concept,” Hopes said.

“That’s very important, because if you walk away at that point, you’re leaving money on the table. So, don’t just presume that if you choose not to take a loan that that is the end of the process. You should consider going through that process and then they will send you back to FEMA.”

SBA Public Affairs Specialist Laurie Dana shared with the New Era SBA is encouraging everyone who may have been affected, including those in Chrsitian County, to first register with FEMA and then, if they are referred to SBA, the administration asks that individuals complete a disaster loan application.

Dana added that homeowners can borrow up to $200,000 in repairs to their residence and renters as well as homeowners can borrow up to $40,000 to replace the contents of their home, which can include their vehicles.

“Anything that was damaged by the tornadoes,” Dana said.

Dana continued to explain that businesses can also apply for disaster loans to make repairs to their building, replace their inventory and assets and anything that was damaged by the storms.

“Businesses can also apply for working capital to help pay the bills that they would have been able to pay for if the tornado hadn’t happened,” Dana said.

She added that the deadline for the businesses that apply for working capital have a much later deadline than those that do not own businesses as business owners may discover monetary or bill loss later on after they’ve already begun their recovery process.

Dana shared that the disaster loans carry low interest to help those in need in the long-term, with interest rates as low as 1.438% for both homeowners and renters. However, if an applicant has credit available elsewhere from SBA, interest rates are as low as 2.875%.

She added that even if individuals are approved for a loan, they do not have to accept it and they do have time to make a decision on whether or not they do want to accept a loan.

Applying for SBA loans is free of charge.

Dana encourages those who are interested in the disaster loans to apply as soon as possible and that you do not have to wait for insurance to settle to see what kind of loan they are approved to receive.

The deadline for SBA disaster home loan applications is Feb. 10. The deadline for working capital loans or economic injury disaster loans is Sept. 12.

Each FEMA applicant will have to provide a current phone number where you can be contacted, the applicant’s social security number, the address of where the natural disaster hit as well current place of refuge, a general list of damaged goods and losses, and banking information for those who choose to receive funds via direct deposit.

For those insured, applicants will have to provide each company name as well each policy and group number.

For applicants who have lost all personal belongings and cannot provide proof of identification, FEMA still plans to work with everyone in need of assistance as long as verification can be identified in some fashion.

For more information on Kentucky’s tornado recovery, visit www.fema.gov/disaster/4630 or call their toll-free number at 800-621-3362.

To apply for SBA disaster loans, applicants can go in person to disaster recovery centers, they can go online to disasterloanassistance.sba.gov or they can call their toll-free number at 1-800-659-2955.

Alongside FEMA and SBA, there are additional organizations working together to help out those in need.

The Western Kentucky Tornado Relief Fund can be reached via their website at TeamWKYReliefFund.ky.gov.

(0) comments

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
PLEASE TURN OFF YOUR CAPS LOCK.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.