FEMA Assistance for Hurricane Victims

By Will Johnson
Messenger Reporter

TEXAS – As Hurricane Harvey begins to dissipate, the path of devastation left behind is unimaginable. The response from volunteers seeking to help rescue victims of this tragedy has been overwhelming and the federal government is also stepping up in a big way to provide assistance in the storm’s aftermath.

According to an Aug. 31 press release from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), mobilization of resources and personnel continues in an effort  “… to support state, local and tribal efforts throughout the region. More than 240 shelters are open across the affected and surrounding areas and housed tens of thousands of people last night. More than 21,000 federal staff are deployed in support of (the) Tropical Storm Harvey response.”

The press release further stated, “Residents and business owners should apply for assistance by registering through the FEMA mobile app or online at www.DisasterAssistance.gov. FEMA has received more than 364,000 registrations for assistance, the largest registration after any single event. More than 103,000 of your neighbors have already been approved for $66.4 million in assistance with FEMA and we want to help you.”

As the transition from rescue to recovery moves more into the recovery stage, contractors and construction workers will be needed to help cleanup and rebuild.

“The FEMA Public Assistance Grant Program moves into action after an event is declared a disaster,” a Sept. 1 FEMA press release stated. “This program provides resources for the repair, replacement or restoration of public facilities that are eligible for funding assistance.”

In the press release, FEMA stated, “Contractors with pre-arranged emergency contracts are eligible for funding/ reimbursement for work that is required. Contractors with equipment, services and specific types of assistance should contact this division of FEMA to inquire about getting vetted for pre-arranged contracts.”

FEMA’s Procurement Disaster Assistance Team has also moved into the area to offer assistance, according to the press release.

Along with federal assistance, FEMA indicated “… many additional contracts for rebuilding are procured through the state or municipality level of government. Companies with capabilities to assist after a disaster should stay registered with FEMA. The agency’s Industry Liaison Program qualifies local firms to serve as prime or subcontractors in the event of a disaster. When there are too few local contractors, FEMA turns to the Army Corps of Engineers and the GSA for assistance.”

On an individual level, short-term housing assistance and other funding is available to survivors that register through FEMA.

Some individuals whose homes are uninhabitable or inaccessible may qualify for short-term lodging at eligible hotels, according to information on the FEMA website.

“We can also provide up to two months of expedited rental assistance to those eligible to get funds quickly and begin making decisions regarding their temporary housing solutions,” the FEMA website stated. “When survivors register, they will also receive information on other resources in their area, including available services from other federal agencies.”

Also joining in on the relief effort is the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA). As of Thursday, FEMA reported the SBA “… has received 1,210 disaster loan applications; of which the majority are home disaster loan applications.  The SBA’s disaster customer service center has handled 2,280 calls from residents and businesses in the areas impacted by Hurricane Harvey. To date, 171 damage inspections have been completed.”

In addition, for those who have federal flood insurance, the National Flood Insurance Program “… is issuing advance payments of up to $5,000 for building and contents damages prior to an adjuster’s inspection to help get funds into the hands of survivors as soon as possible.

If a policyholder has photos and receipts of out-of-pocket expenses, they may receive an advance payment of up to $10,000. As of 2:30 pm on Thursday, over 37,000 claims had been submitted in Texas.

Among the various private organizations and federal agencies assisting in the ongoing support, recovery and preparedness efforts are:

  • The American Red Cross
  • The S. Army Corps of Engineers
  • The U.S. Coast Guard
  • The Corporation for National and Community Service
  • The Department of Defense and Defense Logistics Agency
  • The Department of Labor
  • The Department of Energy
  • The Environmental Protection Agency
  • The Federal Communications Commission
  • The Federal Trade Commission
  • The S. Food and Drug Administration
  • The General Services Administration’s
  • The S. Department of Health and Human Services
  • The Department of the Interior
  • The National Park Service and Office of Aviation Services
  • The National Protection and Programs Directorate
  • The Internal Revenue Service
  • The National Guard Bureau
  • The Office for Civil Rights and Civil Liberties
  • The U.S. Office of Personnel Management
  • The S. Citizenship and Immigration Services
  • govand GobiernoUSA.gov

 

Will Johnson may be contacted via e-mail at wjohnson@messenger-news.com.