The Federal Emergency Management Agency has an information booth set up at the Morris Menards store to spread the word about hazard mitigation.
From 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. through Saturday, FEMA representatives will be on hand at Menards to answer questions and pass on information. They will also be there Sunday, but for a shorter day due to having to move to another location for next week.
“We want to make sure people are aware of this display because it’s a lot of information to explain what hazard mitigation does and to mitigate against future damages,” said Ken Higginbotham, FEMA external affairs officer.
FEMA has had a presence in the area since the April 18 flood caused severe damage to people’s homes, causing some in the Grundy County area to have to evacuate.
Those affected by the flood could be eligible for financial assistance and need to register with FEMA. Individuals can register online at www.disasterassistance.gov or via a web-enabled phone at m.fema.gov. Applicants may also call 1-800-621-3362 or (TTY) 1-800-462-7585. The toll-free numbers operate from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m., seven days a week.
People do not need to visit the information booth or a Disaster Recovery Center to register. The DRC set up in Morris closed down last week, and the information table has since been set up at Menards. FEMA specialists on hand will answer specific questions about building techniques that can reduce the potential for damage to a home, business and property from future storms, and other topics such as flood cleanup tips and techniques, flood- and wind-resistant building methods, elevating appliances and flood insurance.
“A lot of people don’t realize that if you live in America you need flood insurance,” said Evelyn Ford of FEMA. “If you don’t understand the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), go to floodsmart.gov, put in your address and it will tell you the risk you are in. Everyone needs flood insurance.”
Information on the NFIP is just some of what is available at the FEMA booth. The insurance program is administered by FEMA and enables residents in participating communities to purchase federally backed flood insurance.
Participation in NFIP is based on agreements between the local municipality and the federal government.
Information is also available on mitigation ideas for reducing flood loss, such as elevating appliances, electric panels or even a whole house; installing floodwalls; and putting in floor drains.
On Tuesday, when the information table was first set up, FEMA helped 76 people, said Aldo Escabi of FEMA. By 2:30 p.m. Wednesday, about 110 people had been helped that day.
FEMA partners with home improvement stores located in areas suffering from damage after a natural disaster, said Ford.
In addition to FEMA, the U.S. Small Business Administration is also still available to help, said Aquinas Mackey, public affairs specialist for SBA. This organization offers low-interest loans to help people and businesses rebuild what might not be covered by insurance.
According to a press release from SBA, it offers numerous types of loans: Home Disaster Loans – for homeowners or renters to repair or replace disaster-damaged real estate or personal property owned by the victim. Renters are eligible for their personal property losses, including automobiles; Business Physical Disaster Loans – for businesses to repair or replace disaster-damaged property owned by the business, including real estate, inventories, supplies, machinery and equipment. Businesses of any size, as well as private and non-profit organizations are eligible.
There are also Economic Injury Disaster Loans – these are working capital loans to help small businesses, small agricultural cooperatives, small businesses engaged in aquaculture, and most private, non-profit organizations of all sizes meet their ordinary and necessary financial obligations that cannot be met as a direct result of the disaster. These loans are intended to assist through the disaster recovery period.
Some of these loans have aspects for mitigation purposes, said Mackey.
For more information on FEMA assistance visit disasterassitance.gov. For more information on the SBA loans visit sba.gov.