Only a month to go: Deadline nears

Published 12:00 am Friday, October 15, 2004

MOBILE – Alabama victims of Hurricane Ivan will have another month to file an application with the Federal Emergency Management Agency for federal disaster assistance.

Homeowners and renters can apply for assistance in the form of a Small Business Administration loan or disaster assistance grants.

Statewide, more than 105,000 applications for assistance has been made, said Eugene Brezany, a FEMA public information officer.

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As of Thursday afternoon, 975 applications have come from Marengo County, 343 from Hale County, 149 from Greene County, 609 from Perry County and 511 from Sumter County.

“Those are huge numbers and people are still either settling with their insurance companies and are now calling us or they’re just discovering damage,” he said. “We know that [the numbers] indicates a significant need out there.”

The deadline for individuals and businesses to register for assistance is November 15, 2004, and that can be accomplished by either logging on the FEMA’s website at www. and completing the agency’s just-released online application or by calling the FEMA Tele-Registration hotline at

800-621-FEMA (3362) or 800-462-7585 (TTY) for the hearing- or speech-impaired. If possible, Brezany said, try calling in the evening after 6:00 p.m. or on weekends when call volume often is lighter.

That call volume, Brezany said, continued to be intense from Alabama storm victims. Nearly 2,300 applications were filed on Wednesday alone.

“We encourage people to apply if they are uninsured or underinsured, and even if they are insured, it’s still good to be in our system – if something’s not covered by insurance we might be able to help,” he said.

FEMA also operates a Helpline for those who may need information or have to make a change on their application. Call the Helpline number 800-621-3362 (FEMA), or 800-462-7585 (TTY) for the speech- or hearing-impaired. The Helpline is available from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily.

While FEMA and state officials are busy helping applicants, there are some who are equally busy trying to defraud storm victims in the state.

According the FEMA, at least two South Alabama residents have been contacted by a company offering “government grants” of $8,000. In exchange for the grants, applicants are asked to provide their bank account information so that a $239 processing fee can be later withdrawn.

FEMA does not call disaster victims on the telephone and offer grants. The disaster grants that are approved are based on eligibility for disaster assistance and the agency does not charge a fee for providing grant money, according to Joshua Barnes, another FEMA spokesman.

Individuals aren’t the only ones receiving federal disaster assistance. Local governments, rural electric associations and the state receive what the agency terms “public assistance” or “infrastructure assistance.”

Brezany said that preliminary damage assessment figures from The Times’ five-county area were not available on Thursday, but said local governments and FEMA liaisons were developing project worksheets which help detail specific costs for disaster recovery operations.

“Most of the local jurisdictions have attended their applicants’ briefing,” he said.

The applicants’ briefing is the second stage in getting reimbursements to local governments and provides a local government officials with the information that’s needed to start the development of disaster projects.

Under those projects, the federal government reimburses 85 percent of storm recovery costs and damage to public buildings, roads, bridges and other infrastructure.

Brezany said that the state of Alabama provides a 10 percent match and that local governments much match 5 percent. Under a presidential emergency declaration, which covered the first 72 hours of the disaster, local and state governments will receive 100 percent reimbursement for emergency protective measures, pa Under a presidential emergency declaration, which covered the first 72 hours of the disaster, local and state governments will receive 100 percent reimbursement for emergency protective measures, payroll costs, and debris clearance.

Local governments will take some time getting the damage figures together, said Marengo County Emergency Manager Kevin McKinney.

“They’re just beginning the process,” he said.

However, Black Warrior Electric Power Cooperative, McKinney said, had turned in an application for about $2.8 million in damage and recovery costs.

An electric power cooperative is eligible for 75 percent reimbursement from the federal government and must match that with 25 percent, he said.