FEMA aid is questionable


by Lucy Bustamante


Posted on August 30, 2011 at 3:43 PM

Updated Sunday, Oct 20 at 9:22 PM

HAMPTON ROADS – Some victims of Hurricane Irene may have already been trying to get a hold of FEMA for assistance.  But before they can apply for any reimbursement, President Obama has to first declare the area a federal disaster zone.

Obama has not done that yet.

FEMA rejected assistance for Hampton Roads when tornadoes ripped through back in April.

If you have damage and want assistance, you should prepare in case it is approved.  Bob Spieldenner, a spokesperson for the Virginia Department of Emergency Management offers some tips.

“The best thing people can do right now is document everything. Take pictures of damage, keep receipts if you're working with insurance anyway and that will be handy as well,” said Spieldenner.

On Wednesday, FEMA crews will survey the region and add up the damage.  If the total equals at least $3.27 cents in damage per person, the state qualifies.  Also, the state needs to meet a minimum of $10.7 million to qualify.

“We are doing the assessments this week. We hope to have a decision next week about asking for the federal assistance and we'll have to wait and see what they decide,” said Spieldenner.

If the state qualifies, residents can then apply to FEMA through their website or over the phone.  It’s likely that those who qualify (homeowners and business owners) will be directed to apply for a 2-3% interest loan through the Small Business Administration. 

If you want to contact FEMA call 1-800-621-FEMA (3362.) You can also go to FEMA.gov.