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FEMA Representatives Offer Guidance to Residents, Businesses

Step-by-step instructions to getting assistance from FEMA or the Small Business Administration

Representatives from FEMA and the Small Business Association spoke at Tuesday’s Lacey Township Committee meeting to provide information to residents that have yet to begin the process of seeking financial assistance after Hurricane Sandy.

“We are the primary lender and primary source of money following a disaster for recovery and reconstruction,” Gary Colton of the Small Business Administration said.

The first step is to register with FEMA. Once residents do, if they qualify for assistance through the Small Business Administration, a loan application will be sent to them.

The Small Business Administration provides homeowners with up to $200,000 to help rebuild from damage due to the storm. Homeowners and renters could also qualify for up to $40,000 of personal property replacement such as clothing, furniture, appliances and even a personal automobile, if not covered by insurance.

These loans are typically low interest, Colton said. The rate is 1.688 percent for up to 30 years.

Businesses and nonprofit organizations are offered $2 million to rebuild buildings, replace equipment and restock inventory, he said. There is also an Economic Injury Disaster Loan to cover working costs such as salaries to stay in business or for when businesses are closed or reduced. This loan has a 4 percent interest rate and is also up to 30 years.

“I encourage residents to apply right now,” he said, adding that the application process can begin even before going through insurance.

For these loans, there is a low-income requirement, he said.

Once registered with FEMA, residents can also go on to the Small Business Administration’s website to fill out a loan application.

George Medley of FEMA Community Relations provided step-by-step instructions for disaster recovery:

  1. Register with FEMA immediately, whether or not you have insurance. Insurance must be exhausted before efforts with FEMA can move forward but there are exceptions to that with housing damages such as after Hurricane Sandy. Insurance can take up to 14 months before completed so residents should not wait. They must be registered with FEMA within 60 days of the incident, unless that is further extended.
  2. Assess damage.
  3. A FEMA representative or an insurance adjuster will look at the damage.
  4. If the house is uninhabitable, find temporary housing, which is offered through several FEMA programs.
  5. Go to a Disaster Recover Center for all information and to cover all necessary steps.
  6. Create a recovery plan. “They harder they work at getting a recovery plan in place for themselves, the sooner they’ll find themselves in a position near what reality was before the storm,” Medley said.
  7. Remain in constant contact with FEMA and the Disaster Recovery Center for federal programs. Things continuously change; programs get added or open up, he said. Once the Disaster Recover Center is closed, call FEMA at 1-800-621-FEMA.

Unfortunately, some of the homes damaged in Lacey are summer homes. FEMA only considers primary residences for assistance, Medley said.

Disaster Recovery Centers are located throughout Southern Ocean County.

More information can be found on the Small Business Administration's website or FEMA's website as well as laceytownship.org.

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