Disaster Declared, FEMA Funds Available–Authorities Ask for Patience in Receiving Funds

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By: 
Kevin Murphy
Cross Plains was one of the hardest hit areas during the August flooding. Here a bridge is seen floating down a village street on August 21. A National Disaster was declared and FEMA funds and low-interest SBA loans will be available.

DANE COUNTY–Dane County’s first federal major disaster declaration in 10 years could potentially bring millions of dollars to flood-ravaged residents and businesses but local officials are advising patience.

Federal assistance can include grants for temporary housing and home repairs, low-cost loans to cover uninsured property losses, and other programs to help individuals and business owners recover from the effects of the August 20 flood that followed a state record-setting downpour.

Residents and business owners who sustained losses in Dane, Sauk and six other counties, can begin applying for assistance by registering online at http://www.DisasterAssistance.gov or by calling 1-800-621-3362 or, 1-800-462-7585 (TTY) for the hearing and speech impaired. The toll-free telephone lines will operate from 7 a.m.-9 p.m. (local time) seven days a week until further notice, according to a statement issued Friday by Federal Emergency Management Agency.

Dane County’s Assistant Director of Emergency Management, David Janda, said that last week’s presidential major disaster declaration kicks off a process that will likely to continue for weeks.

“FEMA and the (Small Business Administration) will set up a disaster recovery center in the area at a location not yet specified.  People will be able to apply via phone and meet with FEMA and SBA officials to find out their eligibility for cost recovery reimbursement. A lot of people were affected by the flood, but each person and business will meet on a case-by-case basis to go over their damages and work out their relief,” Janda said.

Since the county has not participated in a federal disaster recovery process in 10 years, Janda did not know what forms FEMA would use and exactly what documentation individuals would need to support their relief claim. However, that information should be available soon.

“There will be a big push to get that information out to the public,” he said.

Janda anticipates that many household repairs have already been completed, so paid invoice and checks written for repairs would probably be considered valid documentation.

“Not every cost will be covered by FEMA. Instead, FEMA covers essential repairs to make a household safe and secure. If a furnace was damaged in a flood that should be an eligible for replacement as that’s needed in order to make a safe and secure household,” Janda said.

Carpeting and drywall for may not be a covered expense unless it was part of a primary living space, he said.

FEMA reviews each claim to determine if the loss is covered by insurance or other funding sources as FEMA is the “last line of help in a sense,” said Janda. If it deems a necessary repair cannot be made without FEMA funds then, in some cases, payment is authorized in advance of a repair, but in most cases, payment is made to reimburse an eligible repair, he said.

Low-interest loans up to $200,000 for eligible households and $2 million for businesses are typically available through FEMA in disaster relief programs, according to FEMA information. 

You will need to make a report to FEMA, even if you previously reported to 211. Agricultural losses are to be reported to the Farm Services Agency at 608-355-4420.

There are three ways to apply for FEMA funding:

1. Call FEMA at 1-800-621-3362 (FEMA)

2. Register online and click on “Enter your city and State or Zip Code to see if your area has been declared” and then chose “Apply Online.”

3. Go to the Disaster Recovery Center when opened. This location will be heavily advertised once it is established. Monitor media and the County website for more information https://dcflood.countyofdane.com/

The U.S. Small Business Administration opened a Business Recovery Center (BRC) in Dane County, on Oct. 22 at 740 Regent St. Ste. 100, Madison. 

Businesses and private nonprofit organizations of any size may borrow up to $2 million to repair or replace disaster damaged or destroyed real estate, machinery and equipment, inventory, and other business assets. Applicants may be eligible for a loan increase up to 20 percent of their physical damages, as verified by the SBA for mitigation purposes. Eligible mitigation improvements may include a safe room or storm shelter, sump pump, French drain or retaining wall to help protect property and occupants from future damage caused by a similar disaster.

For small businesses, small agricultural cooperatives, small businesses engaged in aquaculture and most private nonprofit organizations, the SBA offers Economic Injury Disaster Loans to help meet working capital needs caused by the disaster. Economic Injury Disaster Loan assistance is available regardless of whether the business suffered any physical property damage.

Interest rates are as low as 3.675 percent for businesses, 2.5 percent for nonprofit organizations and 2 percent for homeowners and renters with terms up to 30 years. Loan amounts and terms are set by the SBA and are based on each applicant’s financial condition.

Apply in person at the BRC Monday-Friday, 8 a.m.-5 p.m., or online at disasterloan.sba.gov. The filing deadline to return applications for physical property damage is Dec. 17, 2018. The deadline to return economic injury applications is July 18, 2019.

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