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Several assistance options now available for those affected by tornadoes

Published 3:04pm Thursday, February 2, 2012

President Obama’s disaster declaration for Chilton and Jefferson counties has opened up several options for assistance for those who were affected by the Jan. 23 storms.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency will provide assistance in the form of grants for temporary housing, basic home repairs and other serious disaster-related needs.

Registration is the first step toward receiving assistance and can be done online at disasterassistance.gov or by calling 1-800-621-FEMA (3362). Those with hearing or speech impairment can call 1-800-462-7585.

The toll-free FEMA registration numbers are available seven days a week from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. local time.

Those interested can also apply for assistance directly through Web-enabled devices or smartphones by visiting m.fema.gov and clicking on “Apply Online for FEMA Assistance.”

Those applying will need to submit a telephone number where they can be reached, their address at the time of the disaster and the address where they are currently staying, their Social Security number, a general description of damage done to property and other losses, the name of their insurance company and policy number or agent if they had property insurance at the time of the storms and their bank account routing information if you want FEMA to use direct deposit.

Individual assistance helps eligible applicants with temporary housing assistance, uninsured personal property losses and medical, dental and funeral expenses caused by the disaster, along with other disaster-related expenses and serious needs.

Low-interest disaster loans from the U.S. Small Business Administration also will be available to cover residential and business losses not covered by insurance.

Also, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development issued a press release Thursday, notifying residents it would speed federal disaster assistance to the state and provide support to homeowners and low-income renters forced from their homes following severe storms, straight-line winds and flooding.

“Families who may have been forced from their homes need to know that help is available to begin the rebuilding process,” HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan said in the release. “Whether it’s foreclosure relief for FHA-insured families or helping these counties recover, HUD stands ready to help in any way we can.”

According to the release, HUD will:

•Offer the state and other entitlement communities the ability to re-allocate existing federal resources toward disaster relief. HUD programs allow states to redirect millions of dollars to address critical needs, including housing and services for disaster victims.

•Grant immediate foreclosure relief in the form of 90-day moratoriums on foreclosures and forbearance on foreclosures of Federal Housing Administration-insured home mortgages.

•Make mortgage insurance available to disaster victims who have lost their homes and are facing the daunting task of rebuilding or buying another home. Borrowers from participating FHA-approved lenders are eligible for 100 percent financing, including closing costs.

•Make insurance available for home rehabilitation. Those who have lost their homes can finance the purchase or refinance of a house along with its repair through a single mortgage. The program also allows homeowners who have damaged houses to finance the rehabilitation of their existing single-family home.

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