Disaster Financial Assistance

How to obtain financial help from the federal government after the big one hits.

FEMA Public Assistance is broken down into 7 categories:

  • A -- Debris Removal
  • B -- Emergency Protective Measures
  • C -- Roads and Bridges
  • D -- Water Control Facilities
  • E -- Building and Equipment
  • F -- Utilities
  • G -- Parks, Recreational Facilities, and other items

FEMA considers debris removal to be the removal and clearance of trees, sand, gravel, building material and wrecked vehicles. To be covered for PA funding it must:

  • Eliminate immediate threat to lives and public safety
  • Remove threats of extensive damage to public or private property
  • Ensure the economic recovery of the disaster community
  • Mitigate the risk to life and property

Not all debris removal is covered; while funding is approved to clear streets for emergency vehicles, the overall clean up of downed trees is not. Another one is debris removal from private property. It is not covered, but if it is placed at the curb, it is. This is where accurate documentation is very important when it comes to filing a claim.

Emergency Protective Measures taken before and after the storm to reduce injuries and prevent damage to public and private property. Some of them include:

  • Police, Fire and EMS response
  • Emergency Communications
  • Health and safety measures
  • Sandbagging and pumping

Assistance from the Small Business Administration (SBA) is not just for small business. Following a declared disaster, the following types of assistance is available:

  • Home Disaster Loans, low interest loans to homeowners, renters and non-farm business
  • Business Physical Disaster Loans, loans to businesses to repair or replace damaged property, inventories or equipment. Impacted private nonprofit organizations are also eligible
  • Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDL), small businesses which were not physically damaged but suffered economic loss

In order to be eligible for an SBA loan the applicant needs to show an acceptable credit history, show they can repay the loan and post collateral. The amount of loans varies between individuals and business.

What happens after you file your claim? You can track your application on-line, by phone or in person at the Disaster Recovery Center. Individuals can check on the status of their application in just over 24 hours, PA applications take longer as there is more documentation required. Hopefully you will not have to file a claim anytime soon to see how the process works.

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