Madison County residents have limited time to sign up for FEMA assistance

Madison County residents who were impacted by flood waters this past spring and early summer have about three weeks left to sign up for federal assistance, and officials are trying to get the word out.

“Madison County has been declared as one of the counties where there is individual assistance available,” said John Maclean, spokesman with the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

So far FEMA officials have processed two requests for individual aid from Madison County, Maclean said. Those requests have totaled about $2,545.

However, three more requests are being put together, said Chris Mumme, Madison County Emergency Management Director. Requests for assistance from FEMA must be submitted by Sept. 26.

This past spring and early summer, exceptional snowpack in the Montana coupled with rainy weather caused majoring flooding around the state. While the flooding impacts around Madison County weren’t as dire as places in central and eastern Montana, the high water created several problems for homeowners and the county road crews.

Earlier this summer Gov. Brian Schweitzer signed a disaster relief agreement with FEMA, allowing federal aid to pour into the state for impacted counties and reservations. In Montana, Madison County was one of 31 counties to qualify for individual assistance with FEMA for flood damage that occurred between April 4 and July 22, Maclean said.

The average grant from FEMA is about $1,000, he said.

The idea isn’t to replace a home or pay for large damage claims, Maclean said. The maximum FEMA can grant is $32,500.

“FEMA’s objective is to make people safe, sanitary and stable,” he said. “We’re not trying to replace everything people had beforehand.”

In addition to FEMA assistance, disaster loans are available from the U.S. Small Business Administration, Maclean said. These loans can be for much larger amounts and be tailored to meet a variety of needs and incomes.

People should also understand that FEMA’s goal is to help people and so just because you’ve been turned down for assistance, doesn’t mean that’s the end of the story.

“What people should know is that once you’re registered you’ve entered a process,” Maclean said. “There are other things available … We’re not here to deny people. We’re trying to get everybody who deserves one, a grant. That’s what Congress tells us to do.”

Mumme is busy helping people around Madison County file for assistance. He is also working with FEMA to help pay for a variety of flood related projects and damage Madison County had to pay for.

All told Madison County is applying for FEMA assistance on 17 projects caused by flood damage. Most of the projects are road and bridge related, Mumme said.

Personal disaster assistance from FEMA covers emergency home repair, temporary disaster housing, replacement grants for serious disaster-related needs and expenses not covered by insurance or assistance programs. For those insured, FEMA may help pay for basic needs not covered by insurance, Maclean said.

Homeowners, renters and businesses, whether insured or not, are encouraged to register with FEMA by calling 1-800-621-3362 or by going online to www.DisasterAssistance.gov.

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