VERDUNVILLE — Time is running out for victims of the March 15 flash flood to get registered with the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
FEMA is reminding those affected by the recent storms and floods they have only a short time left to register for possible assistance.
For flood victims in Logan and Mingo counties the deadline is May 21. For Lincoln County residents who were affected by the storms and flooding of February 29 through March 5, the deadline is May 15. For Lincoln County residents affected by the floods of March 15 through March 31, the deadline is May 21.
Assistance is available from FEMA for homeowners, renters and businesses of any size, but flood victims have to register with the agency to be eligible for help.
“You absolutely must register with FEMA as the first step in getting help,” FEMA’s Charleston-based Federal Coordinating Officer Deanne Criswell said in a press release issued Tuesday morning. “Even if you have been talking to, or signed up with, state, county or local folks, that doesn’t get you registered with FEMA.”
On the morning of March 15, several inches of rain fell on Logan County in just an hour, causing widespread flash flooding in the Verdunville, Mount Gay, Mud Fork and Coal Branch communities.
Nearly 300 homes and businesses were damaged and more than 1,000 people were affected by the flash flooding.
Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin, U.S. Senator Joe Manchin and U.S. Rep. Nick Rahall all asked President Obama for a disaster declaration, which was quickly issued, and FEMA has been in the area since just days after the flooding hit.
People seeking help need only phone FEMA’s toll-free Help Line at 800-621-3362 to speak to a representative and supply some basic information. Operators are standing by from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. local time seven days a week.
“The process is fast and simple. Even if you are unsure if you qualify, call FEMA and let us determine your eligibility,” Criswell said.
Registrations can also be made online at www.DisasterAssistance.gov. From a cell phone or other PDA, the address is m.fema.gov. Those with hearing or speech disabilities can use the TTY number, 800-462-7585. For those who use 711 or Video Relay Service (VRS), call 1-800-621-3362.
Applicants should be ready to supply FEMA with current contact information, including a mailing address, phone number, e-mail address or that of a friend or relative who is in touch with the applicant, a Social Security number of any household member, the address of the damaged property, a brief description of the problems and, if appropriate, any information about insurance coverage one might or might not have. The FEMA representative may ask for some other data, like the number of people residing in the property and the family’s gross annual income. All this information is critical to the process and will be kept in strict confidence by FEMA, Criswell said.
After registering with FEMA, applicants will be given a case number so they can follow the progress of their applications and to use when speaking to other FEMA personnel. To check on the status of one’s application, call the FEMA Help Line or visit the Disaster Recovery Center at the Verdunville Volunteer Fire Department, 2270 Mud Fork Road in Logan.
The Verdunville recovery center is open from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday and from 10 a.m. through 5 p.m. on Saturdays.
The center is staffed with disaster-recovery experts from the state and FEMA to provide information and guidance for applicants to navigate through the recovery process.
Also on hand at the Disaster Recovery Center are representatives from the Small Business Administration, SBA spokesman Jose Vejarano said. These personnel can explain the low-interest loan packages available to individuals, private nonprofits and businesses of any size. The loans are for the repair or replacement of real estate and/or personal property damaged by the storms and related flooding, he said. People who register with FEMA may be sent a disaster loan application from the SBA. No one is obligated to take out a loan, according to the SBA, but filling out the application is essential for potentially qualifying for further assistance.
For residents in Marion, Harrison, Preston, Taylor and Wayne counties the deadline to register for assistance is May 15.
To contact Staff Writer Michael Browning, call 304-752-6950, extension 309, or email him at email@example.com.