Assistance available for flood victims

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Representatives of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) have their hands full with residents seeking relief from record flooding in the area.

Teams from FEMA and the Red Cross were in Putnam County Tuesday inspecting flood damage in homes. The teams are responding to applications made at the recovery center that opened Sunday in Terre Haute.

Since the center opened, more than 120 families affected by the flood have been to Terre Haute to ask for help from FEMA, the American Red Cross and the Small Business Administration.

Many were applying for grants. The center is serving people with flood damage from Putnam, Vigo, Parke, Vermillion, Owen, Clay, Greene, Sullivan and Knox counties.

"They will inspect the damage," said Greg Hughes of FEMA. "But it's important to know you have to apply before we can help."

Persons with damage should report it to Kim Hyten, Putnam County Emergency Management Assistance director. He can be reached at (765) 720-5885. Those in need of assistance also need to contact FEMA.

Hughes said the best thing to do is visit the recovery center in Terre Haute. It is located at the Booker T. Washington Community Center, 1101 S. 13th St., and is open from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily.

Those who can't visit the center can start the process by calling (800) 621-FEMA (3362) or register online at

"Even if you have insurance coverage, you may be eligible for assistance if you have disaster-related needs," said Hughes. "This can include grants to cover temporary housing assistance and small business low-interest loans for renters and homeowners for repairs or replacements."

Homeowners are eligible for financial assistance of up to $28,000. They may borrow up to $200,000 for real estate repairs. Renters can borrow up to $40,000 for replacement of disaster-damaged personal property.

The Small Business Administration is also at the center to offer low-interest loans for homeowners. Loan rates can be as low as 2.687 percent for homeowners and 4 percent for renters and businesses with 30-year terms.

Homeowners and renters can borrow up to 20 percent more to spend on things that will help keep damage from occurring again.

The American Red Cross is offering help at the center. Applicants will need to provide general information about their income, insurance, housing needs and the damage to their residences.

"You need to use your legal name (no nicknames or abbreviations) and have your current phone number and social security number," said Hughes. "Make sure you have a list of damages and losses as well as the name of your insurance company and your policy number. Bank account coding for direct deposit will speed up the process."

Depending upon circumstances, Hughes said aid recipients can expect to receive the checks in about two weeks after approval.

Information about assistance is also available Emergency Management Assistance office on the west side of the Putnam County Courthouse.

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