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FEMA Workers Spreading Word About Assistance After Irma

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With signs of Hurricane Irma still evident across the state, FEMA employees go door to door to help people get temporary financial aid.  They start in areas of greater damage and travel block to block, hitting hundreds of houses a day.

They caught up with Duval County homeowner Eula Fletcher Monday, who attempted to contact FEMA over the phone.

“They told me I had a hundred and ninety minutes to wait, so I just hung up,” Fletcher said.

Her house is located in Riverview, just outside downtown Jacksonville, and was affected by record storm surges from the St. Johns River.  In her twenty years living there, she has never had to deal with natural disaster damage.  So after hanging, she was not sure what to do.

But a simple knock followed by a 15 minute conversation with a FEMA team allowed her to complete her application.

Anyone who experienced hurricane damage can qualify as long as FEMA has declared your county eligible.  As of now, almost 50 Florida counties qualify, including Alachua, Marion, Bradford, Union, Columbia, Putnam, Gilchrist, Dixie, Levy, Citrus and Hernando Counties.

According to Gary Petty, a FEMA spokesperson, you must first file a claim with your insurance company.  Once you have your insurance claim information, you will need your social security, affected address, a description of the damage and your bank account information to complete a FEMA application, which can be done by calling 1(800) 621-FEMA or visiting http://www.disasterassistance.gov/.

Once you submit your application, FEMA will send out an inspector to see if you qualify and how much assistance you need.

“It’s all dependent upon how much damage is in their house, how much their insurance paid, and what it’s going to take that survivor to get back into their house, so that they can live in a safe and sanitary and functional house,” Petty said.

After FEMA determines that amount, they will direct you to the Small Business Administration for long-term recovery assistance through low-interest loans, said SBA spokesperson Adrian Laneave.

“For homeowners, they can get up to 200 thousand dollars and the interest rate can be as low as 1.75 percent for up to 30 years,” Laneave said.

This service however is not just for homeowners. Whether you are a renter, business owner, or even a college student looking to replace soaked textbooks, there are options for everyone.

Businesses can receive loans up to $2 million for physical damages and economic injury with an interest rate of 3.305% for up to 30 years.

Another option aids those who suffered personal property damages, with loans up to $40,000.

“We want to make sure every person that is eligible, has the opportunity and the tools to complete their recovery,” said Laneave.

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