FEMA assistance still available

Published 12:00 am Friday, October 29, 2004

Help could be on the way for people who suffered damage from this summer's flooding caused by hurricanes.

Local officials said Thursday Lawrence Countians who suffered flood damage may be eligible for two kinds of assistance: recovery, to help pay for cleanup and repairs; and mitigation, to lessen the chance of being damaged by flooding in the future.

Lawrence County Emergency Services Director Don Mootz said Lawrence County is now eligible for federal disaster recovery funds.

Email newsletter signup

"If they've suffered a loss of household goods, suffered a loss of carpeting or damage to the water heater or anything of that nature, they may apply," Mootz said.

Lawrence County was included in the federal count of damaged counties last week. Immediately after the flooding, Mootz said so few families had requested help that Lawrence County was not at that time eligible to be declared a disaster area, but now has been lumped in with contiguous counties, making it possible for people here to get help.

A team of federal inspectors are in Lawrence County now, assessing flood damaged houses.Mootz said only 14 Lawrence County families had requested recovery help as of Wednesday, but he thinks there are probably more people who need the help but have not asked for it.

"The troubling part for me is people who have damage and have not reported it," Mootz said. "We want to make sure they don't lose the opportunity."

The recovery program will end Nov. 18, people who desire this assistance must call 1-800-621- FEMA to apply. Mootz said those people should also call his office to he can keep track of requests.

Also, The Lawrence County Commission Thursday authorized Dale Mootz,

director of the Ironton-Lawrence County Community Action Organization's Special Projects, to file a preapplication to the federal government in hopes that

Lawrence Countians may share in $6 million in Hazard Mitigation Grant Program (HMGP).

"This would allow person, if they wish, to either sell their house to the federal government, and then it would be destroyed, or if it is feasible, to have the house elevated. …We encourage people with flood damage to let us know about it," Dale Mootz said. "This does not obligate them in any way and the program is entirely voluntary."

The federal recovery funding is not related to the mitigation funding, available; people may apply for both.

Dale Mootz said under the HMGP, federal funds would pay for 75 percent of the cost of the process of either buying or elevating a house. A 25 percent local match would pay for the rest. Usually, other funds can be found to pay that 25 percent.

Mootz said federal officials will spend three or four months evaluating the preapplications before ranking them in order of need. The preapplication must be completed by Nov. 12. Dale Mootz said he needs to know who is interested in this assistance within the next week. Those interested in the hazard mitigation monies may call him at 532-3534.

Dale Mootz emphasized that the houses need not be located in a flood plain to qualify for the federal monies.

Another recent policy change may also help local families: previously, FEMA rules stipulated that if a person rejected one federal proposal for assistance, he or she would not be eligible for any future programs. Dale Mootz said that rule no longer applies.