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Paperwork Begins for People Needing Post-Floyd Funding

Posted September 20, 1999

— Many flood victims live in rented housing and have no insurance. People who own their homes may have homeowners insurance, but many do not have flood insurance. Either way,FEMAor theSmall Business Administrationcan help.

These federal programs are where most flood victims will turn for help. Assistance comes in the form of loans, and in some cases outright grants. Anyone looking for federal assistance must call this number first: (800) 462-9029. That is the only way to register for FEMA help and the quickest way to get help from the Small Business Administration.

And lots of people need help. Damage estimates in North Carolina are topping a billion dollars -- most of that from flooding. Most homeowners do not have flood insurance, and standard homeowners' policies do not cover flooding. What does a homeowner do? Apply to FEMA.

Property owners without flood insurance can get one-time help fromFEMAor theSBA.

Homeowners with mortgages may qualify for SBA refinancing, if they do not have credit available elsewhere and have suffered damage estimated at 40 percent or more of the value of the structure.

There are limits. $400,000 is the cap for personal property. $200,000 is the cap for physical damage to real estate.

Renters like Valerie Lyons are also eligible for help and are getting it.

"I'm hearing rumors that they're not helping everyone, but they are. They're helping everyone, and it doesn't matter what your income is," Lyons says.

FEMA is also helping get flood victims into temporary housing for a couple of months until permanent housing can be found, including hotels, motels, and even private homes.

If your car is destroyed, there is also help available. "If they have an automobile that got flooded, won't run, it's the only automobile they have, then yes, they can make application on a car," says Jimmy Wheeler of FEMA.

Many people will apply for low-interest loans from the SBA. "The greater percentage of the population in the United States will qualify for a low-interest rate, which is 3.625 percent for this particular disaster," Lois Jones says.

The low rates are based on credit not being available to the borrower from non-government sources such as a bank. Rates are higher if you qualify for credit elsewhere.

SBA repayment terms are up to thirty years.

People who own no property and have no income may get grants of up to $13,600.

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