Federal agencies have approved more than $95 million in federal disaster assistance to help Northwest Florida families recover from Hurricane Sally.
The hurricane struck near Gulf Shores, Alabama, on Sept. 16, and the Federal Emergency Management Agency approved individual assistance to help homeowners recoup their uninsured losses on Oct. 2.
In the span of about a month, FEMA has approved nearly $20 million in individual assistance dollars to more than 4,700 storm-impacted residents of Escambia, Santa Rosa, Okaloosa, Walton and Bay counties. Additionally, the U.S. Small Business Administration has approved almost $26 million in disaster loans and the National Flood Insurance Program has paid out just under $50 million.
According to FEMA, the agency approved $15.8 million in housing assistance grants for housing repair costs, home replacement and rental payments. FEMA has approved $4 million in other needs assistance grants to replace essential household items and for other critical disaster-related costs.
Still, nearly 4,000 Sally survivors have applied for aid but failed to provide FEMA with the necessary information from their insurance settlements to complete their disaster assistance registration. According to officials, missing documentation is a common hiccup in the application process, and anyone who applied for assistance should receive a letter or email from FEMA explaining the status of their application and how to respond.
Individuals who have questions about their letter can go online to DisasterAssistance.gov or call the disaster assistance helpline at 800-621-3362 for help.
FEMA has a number of mobile registration intake centers throughout the region where people can get assistance or ask questions in person.
In Escambia County, the centers are the Marie Young Wedgewood Community Center, 6405 Wagner Road; the Lexington Terrace Community Center, 700 S. Old Corry Field; and the Escambia County Equestrian Center, 7750 Mobile Highway.
In Santa Rosa County, the centers are the Gulf Breeze Community Center, 800 Shoreline Drive, and Pensacola State College at 5988 U.S. 90 in Milton.
All centers are open 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. through Saturday, Oct. 31.
Beginning Nov. 2, the centers will be open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays. The exception is Nov. 3, when the Wedgewood, Lexington Terrace and Gulf Breeze community centers will be used as election polling sites.
SBA loans and National Flood Insurance Program Coverage
Business owners, private nonprofit organizations, homeowners and renters may be eligible for low-interest disaster loans from the Small Business Administration to help recover from losses not covered by insurance, grants or other services.
As of Oct. 29, the SBA had approved $25.9 million in disaster loans for 653 homeowners, renters and businesses.
SBA is operating Business Recovery Centers where business owners can meet with SBA representatives and get help applying for the disaster loans.
The local center is at East Pensacola Heights Clubhouse, 3208 E. Gonzalez St. in Pensacola. The site is temporarily closed, but it will reopen Thursday, Nov. 5, at 8 a.m. Regular operating hours are 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. seven days a week.
Applicants may also apply online using SBA’s secure website at DisasterLoanAssistance.sba.gov/ or FOCE-Help@SBA.gov for more information on SBA’s disaster assistance program.
Separately, the National Flood Insurance Program received more than 4,600 claims and paid out $49.7 million as of Oct. 29. According to a news release from Escambia County, 30% of the claims were for properties in areas not designated as a high risk for flooding.
The release noted flood damage is not covered by most homeowners’ insurance properties, and said homeowners’ can protect themselves by having a flood insurance policy through the NFIP or a private insurer. NFIP coverage is available even when flood damage is not the result of a federally declared disaster, and there are policies available to help renters cover their belongings.
For more information, visit FloodSmart.gov or call the NFIP helpdesk at 800-427-4661 or visit floridadisaster.org.
Kevin Robinson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 850-435-8527
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