The typical flood victim will collect $5,000 to $10,000 in federal aid to help put their lives back together, even if the damage extends by thousands of dollars beyond that.
Those who qualify can also apply for loans, although that money will have to be paid back.
“In many cases, it gets people back into their homes,” Eugene Brezany, a spokesman for the Federal Emergency Management Agency said last week. “So at least they’ve got a roof over their heads and knifes, forks and spoons in the kitchen drawer. But it’s pretty bare bones,” he said.
Residents in more than half of the 52 soggy counties slammed with a storm that triggered floods earlier this month are now eligible to register with FEMA, officially signing up for an inspection of their home or damaged property in order to calculate how much recovery grant money, if any, they qualify for from the federal government.
Residents in counties not yet named disaster areas will have to wait until their area is called before applying.
It can take days or weeks for a FEMA representative to survey a property to determine the total damage. Once the inspection is over, money to help repair leaky basements, replace soggy carpets and replace goods that were soaked in flood waters could take few weeks to arrive, Brezany said.
The federal aid is aimed at those who lacked insurance to cover their flood and storm damages. FEMA says those who were insured are still encouraged to register because there may be other damages not included in the initial settlement.
Residents have several options to dealing with their flood damage. In addition to the grant money, they can also apply for low interest loans with the Small Business Administration or a private company.
Eligible residents can apply for up to a $200,000 loan from the federal government at a 2.75 percent interest rate. Individuals can tack on up to $40,000 more to address personal property, such as vehicles.
But it’s no blank check, said Jelani Miller, a spokesman for the Small Business Administration, adding that each dollar must be spent addressing issues related to the storm and flood. While someone might be replacing a water-damaged TV, they are not supposed to use that money buy an entertainment system.
The same goes for low-interest federal business loans, which allow a company to borrow up to $2 million at 4 percent interest.
Some private banks also offer disaster related loans which can be used more freely than the government money.