FEMA Steps in to Assist Community After Storm Damage

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The Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community received a boost in support from the federal government to help with recovery efforts after storms caused widespread damage on July 17 and 18. On September 2, President Joe Biden signed a disaster declaration to release federal aid to the Community. 

Earlier, to reinforce the request for aid from the federal government, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) conducted a Preliminary Damage Assessment (PDA) alongside SRPMIC staff, evaluating the homes and Community infrastructure affected by the storm damage. 

The paperwork submitted to the federal government in early August contributed to the release of resources. According to a White House press release, the president’s support of the Community’s disaster declaration “orders federal aid to supplement the Tribe’s efforts in the areas affected by severe storms from July 17-18, 2022.” 

Now that the disaster declaration is official, SRPMIC members may qualify for grants for temporary housing and home repairs, as well as low-cost loans to cover uninsured property losses. 

According to Charles Kmet, manager of the SRPMIC Office of Emergency Management, “There are two different pieces to what the president signed. One was declaring for public assistance, which allows for the Community to be reimbursed for its costs for the response and recovery from that particular incident.

“The second piece is called Individuals and Households Program (IHP) assistance. That is where FEMA will be directly assisting Community members [by working with] a lot of different components that go along with that.” 

Kmet added that the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) also has been brought in to provide financial assistance to Community businesses. 

To help Community members get the ball rolling, FEMA and the SBA have set up a Disaster Recovery Center at the Red Mountain Housing Subdivision Center and a Business Recovery Center at Two Waters Building A to help people fill out claim forms. 

On September 14, a team of IHP inspectors from FEMA visited every home in which an individual has applied for assistance to verify the damage to the property. If no one was home during the visits, the inspectors attempted to contact the Community members to inform them of the assistance programs and how to report any additional information regarding damage to their home. 

For those who had not yet filed their damage claim with FEMA, Disaster Survivor Assistance (DSA) crews went out with SRPMIC staff members to help Community members file their claims; if no one was home, informational materials were left at the door. 

The individual disaster assistance is available to every Community member, and it is not specific to the elderly or disabled. It also is separate from SRPMIC assistance programs, such as the Senior Home Repair & Replacement Program. While the Community has made efforts to repair damage to some homes, the individual assistance program is a separate component and is specific to FEMA. 

The individual assistance also applies to both homeowners and renters and those who may or may not have homeowner’s/renter’s insurance. The ability to apply for FEMA assistance also applies to individuals who have homeowner’s insurance but were either denied or did not receive a settlement for their damage claims. 

Once a homeowner has received a determination from their insurance company regarding coverage of damages, they will need to provide their insurance information to FEMA to see if they qualify for federal assistance. Even if an individual has gone through the application process with FEMA earlier and did not meet the qualifications for assistance, they will be referred to the SBA to see if they qualify for a low-interest loan to cover damage and loss expenses.

Kmet said, “They have a couple of different programs; if people aren’t eligible through some of the FEMA programs, they can be eligible for getting low-interest loans from SBA as well.” 

Individual homeowners can qualify for an SBA loan of up to $40,000 to replace or repair damage to personal property. Businesses that qualify for an SBA loan can receive up to $2 million, and private nonprofits may be offered up to $200,000. 

Kmet said the main priority is to get the information out to Community members and let them know what assistance they qualify for. Community members and small business owners can check the SRPMIC Facebook page for more information. The SRPMIC Disaster Recovery Center is located at the Red Mountain Housing Subdivision Center at 11889 E. Glenrosa St. Hours are Monday through Friday, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. A second location is at the SRPMIC Fire/Police Substation 292 – Training Room at 3230 N. StapleyDrive. Hours are Monday through Friday: 11:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.; Saturday and Sunday, 10:00 a.m. to 3 p.m. 

You may call 1-800-621-FEMA (3362) or 1-800-462-7585 (TTY) from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. (local time) seven days a week. There is also an option to register for assistance online at www.DisasterAssistance.gov. 

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