FEMA, SBA Officials in Springfield to Assist Flood Victims
Residents in Greene and neighboring counties impacted by late December flooding can now receive service in person at the FEMA Disaster Recovery Center in Springfield.
The support office opened Thursday inside the Library Center on South Campbell, and offers information and financial assistance through Federal Emergency Management Agency grants or Small Business Administration low-interest loans.
Linda Hern and her husband are retired and their income limited. She came to the office to see if they qualify for compensation from repairs to their flooded basement. Her insurance covered up to $5,000 for damage from sewage getting inside, but the costs have exceeded that.
“I’ve spent probably $10,000 so far just cleaning it up… lost my washer/dryer, hot water heater, had to board my animals when they shocked the basement.”
Hern recently went online and got registered with FEMA to start the disaster assistance process. Upon meeting with agency officials Thursday she learned they may qualify for a loan through SBA.
“It looks like that we might be able to get a loan to help us put in a bathroom and get a hot water heater and just basic things that we need that we’ve already paid and don’t have the money to pay for now.”
Nicholas Hines is with the Small Business Administration’s Office of Disaster Assistance. He says financial help for residents and businesses is to cover uncompensated losses that insurance may not cover.
“A lot of folks are concerned that it’s a loan. It is a loan. But in many cases we’re able to get funds into the disaster survivor’s hands almost immediately.”
Homeowners may borrow up to $200,000, while renters can borrow up to $40,000 to replace personal property. Loan interest rates are currently less than two percent.
Hines says some are hesitant to apply for a loan. But that could hurt their chances of getting assistance at all, because it “stops the process.”
“Because once you apply for a loan and [if] you’re declined then we refer you back to FEMA where you may be eligible for additional assistance. So a lot of people don’t even apply for a loan with SBA and that shuts it down.”
Hines adds that if approved for a loan, applicants don’t have to accept it and can seek other methods of assistance.
Hern says she’ll be seeking estimates on her basement damage before returning to see what loan amount she may qualify for.
“Just something to help us put a bathroom back in, get the laundry room setup again. There were five finished rooms down in the basement now there’s nothing there,” said Hern.
William Lindsey is a media relations specialist for FEMA, and says the agency can provide home repair, temporary housing, rental assistance, medical and dental for those impacted by floods between Dec. 23, 2015 and Jan. 9, 2016.
“And what we wanna do is have people register as soon as possible. It’s a 60 day period from Jan. 21 when President Barack Obama signed the declaration to be able to bring federal funding to the state of the Missouri and we have 33 counties that have been affected,” said Lindsey.
Lindsey said since opening Thursday, there had been just over a dozen people in to the office as of this afternoon. The office will remain open Monday-Saturday from 9 am – 7 pm, including Presidents Day Monday, until “the need subsides,” he says.
Registration with FEMA can be done online at www.disasterassistance.gov or by calling 800-621-FEMA (3362).
The assistance sought by Hern and others is made possible through the federal disaster declaration requested by Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon and approved by President Barack Obama on Jan. 21. It applies to residents and businesses in 33 counties. Here’s the full list:
Barry, Barton, Camden, Cape Girardeau, Cole, Crawford, Franklin, Gasconade, Greene, Hickory, Jasper, Jefferson, Laclede, Lawrence, Lincoln, Maries, McDonald, Morgan, Newton, Osage, Phelps, Polk, Pulaski, Scott, St. Charles, St. Francois, St. Louis, Ste. Genevieve, Stone, Taney, Texas, Webster and Wright.
And just this week, that disaster declaration was extended to include local governments and nonprofit agencies in 37 counties. They include:
Barry, Bollinger, Camden, Cape Girardeau, Cedar, Crawford, Dade, Dallas, Douglas, Dunklin, Franklin, Gasconade, Greene, Howell, Iron, Jasper, Jefferson, Lawrence, Lincoln, McDonald, Newton, Ozark, Perry, Phelps, Pulaski, Reynolds, St. Charles, St. Clair, Ste. Genevieve, St. Louis, Scott, Stoddard, Stone, Taney, Texas, Washington and Webster, as well as the City of St. Louis.