FEMA aid for flood victims

by Tom Gallagher

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According to The Scranton Times-Tribune:

"The Federal Emergency Management Agency will provide aid to thousands of Northeast Pennsylvania residents who are just now beginning to recover from the floodwaters stirred by Tropical Storm Lee, the agency announced Tuesday.

The release of federal funds to 19 counties statewide, including Luzerne, Susquehanna and Wyoming, will allow home and business owners to recoup the cost of repairs and new construction through direct payments or low-interest loans to those who qualify.

Now that President Barack Obama has made an official disaster declaration in Pennsylvania that opens the door for flood-affected residents to potentially get federal money in their hands, residents can now submit an application for benefits to the agency."

Across the state line, New York State Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced that FEMA aid is available to flood victims in upstate New York (Binghamton, N.Y., is my hometown), according to the Binghamton Press & Sun-Bulletin. The article lists these key steps:

"On Tuesday, [Governor] Cuomo's office and state insurance officials issued the following recommendations for New Yorkers with property losses:

  • Contact your insurance company or agent with your policy number and other relevant information. Be aware that your policy might require that you make this notification within a certain time frame.

  • FEMA disaster assistance may be available to insured and uninsured individuals and businesses. Homeowners have 60 days to apply for FEMA assistance, which can include both grants, which do not have to be repaid, and low-interest loans.

  • People can qualify for FEMA assistance even if they have insurance or if their insurance does not cover the full cost of the damage.

  • Reporting your damage to local officials does not qualify you for FEMA aid. You must contact FEMA directly and sign up atwww.disasterassistance.gov, or by calling 1 (800) 621-3362.

  • FEMA aid is not taxable.

  • Take photographs or video of the damage before cleanup or repairs. After you've documented the damage, make repairs necessary to prevent further damage to your property, such as covering broken windows, leaking roofs and damaged walls.

  • If your home is damaged to the extent that you cannot live there, ask your insurance company or insurance agent if you have coverage for additional living expenses.

  • Ask what documents, forms and data you will need to file the claim. Keep a diary of all conversations you have with the insurance company and your insurance agent, including names, times and dates of the calls or visits and contact details.

  • If the first offer made by the insurance company does not meet your expectations, be prepared to negotiate."

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