The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is urging residents with damage from heavy floods and storms during late April and early May to register for assistance.

(Image courtesy of the Federal Emergency Management Agency)

After a Presidential Disaster Declaration was issued Friday, Missouri residents in 27 counties can apply for aid.  The area of coverage stretches from southern St. Louis down to the Bootheel in the southern part of the state, and west to include Springfield, Branson, Joplin and points south to the state border.

The state estimates the cost of providing federal assistance will be $28 million for homeowners and renters.  FEMA’s John Mills says the agency is providing grant money which won’t have to be repaid.

“FEMA individual assistance can provide money for basic home repairs, temporary rental assistance and other needs such as replacing damaged or destroyed personal property” said Mills.  The aid could include money for severe damage to personal automobiles.

Mills identified the heaviest damaged portions of the state as Van Buren in Carter County, as well as areas in Howell, Jefferson and Newton counties.

Although the state pegs individual need at $28 million, Mills contends the amount of money granted by FEMA will be entirely dependent on how many people register, and what level of damage they have.

“There is no set amount of money for a set number of homes.  It entirely depends on how many households register for assistance and what their levels of damage are.”

FEMA will be sending Disaster Survivor Assistance teams into affected communities this week going door-to-door to provide support for people who are interested in receiving the federal aid.  Shortly afterward, damage inspectors will be in neighborhoods making assessments.

People who have already made insurance claims and/or have been recipients of help from non-profit groups, such as the United Way, are still eligible for the federal assistance.

Mills notes information about money received from FEMA is protected under the privacy act.  He says the safeguard helps comfort people who might be uncertain about signing-up for the aid.

“Some people may be hesitant to register because they feel that their damage is not as severe as something their neighbor has encountered.”  Mills says depending on someone’s financial situation and level of insurance coverage, it’s possible they could receive money to cover even minor property damage.

The Small Business Administration will also be issuing low interest loans to help homeowners, renters and businesses in the state recover from the floods and storms.

There’s been some confusion over a Presidential Disaster Declaration that was issued for Oklahoma almost two weeks ago.

Mills says Oklahoma is only getting FEMA assistance for state and local governments and certain non-profit organizations.  The money is covering 75 percent of costs to repair roads, bridges and publicly owned infrastructure such as government buildings and schools.

Missouri is getting the same type of coverage for governments and infrastructure, but is also getting the individual assistance for residents.  The additional aid required a larger damage assessment process which took more time to complete.

Any resident recovering from the floods and storms in the 27 covered counties in Missouri is urged to call 1-800-621-3362 (FEMA) or go online here.