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Flood damage? Feds can help

Some people just got wet in last month’s record rains. But others suffered damage to homes or businesses.

Those needing assistance following last month’s floods can now contact the federal government for relief.

On Nov. 7, President George Bush declared the state a disaster area, due to floods Oct. 15-23.

“The best advice we give people, homeowners and business owners alike, is to go straight to FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) by calling their hotline, (800) 621-3362,” said Laura Jull, spokeswoman for the Kitsap County Emergency Management Agency (EMA). “FEMA determines whether or not to give out grant money to individuals or businesses. We’re sending everyone to FEMA.”

The local EMA is based in Bremerton and covers Kitsap County, and works closely with federal officials. The fed hotline will be open until Jan. 6.

Plans available include Hazard Administration Grants to entire communities (call FEMA at (425) 487-4767; and individual homes/businesses relief at (800) 621-FEMA, TTY at (800) 462-7585).

Applicants must provide name, address, description of damage, a contact phone number, mailing address (if different), damaged-property address, and social security number.

An inspector will call within seven to 10 days of application. Homeowners will need the deed to their property or other proof of ownership, and proof of residence — usually a driver’s license or state ID card.

Some disaster programs include housing and other assistance, and low-interest disaster loans from the Small Business Administration — for individuals and non-agricultural businesses. There are no local Recovery Centers to serve those affected by the October storms in Kitsap.

“Sixty-four homeowners — among them some businesses — have called us to report damage from last month, ranging from the loss of a bridge on a private road in Seabeck (Cantu Lane) to general flooding, landslides, and wind damage,” said Jull.

According to federal officials, after FEMA is contacted, callers are assigned an ID number. A FEMA inspector will call to make an appointment to view the damage.

FEMA may provide housing assistance, which may include reimbursements for lodging.

The SBA inspects damage to businesses. If the damage is not extensive, the inspector may turn the case over to the Other Needs Program (ONP). This may include medical, dental and funeral expenses; furniture, clothing, appliances; and vehicle costs (up to certain state limits) among other things.

Low-interest loans are available for damage not covered by insurance. Loans up to $200,000 for a primary residence, $40,000 for personal possessions. There are loans up to $1.5 million for businesses.

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