President Obama and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) on Monday night declared a “major disaster” exists in Massachusetts due to rainstorms and flooding that began earlier this month and continues. The 7 affected Massachusetts counties are Bristol, Essex, Middlesex, Norfolk, Plymouth, Suffolk, and Worcester counties. Federal funds to homeowners in those counties affected by the recent flooding will be available. (Most flooding damage is not covered by standard homeowner’s policies, so this aid is very helpful to those hardest hit). The FEMA Massachusetts flooding resource page is here.
Very important: If you are considering applying for aid, document all damage and repair efforts. Take photographs and video of the flooding and resulting damage. Keep copies of all receipts for sump pumps, air blowers/fans, equipment, contractors, plumbers, electricians, etc. Keep copies of all estimates for repairs. Basically, treat this as any other insurance claim.
The federal aid package includes:
- Rental payments for temporary housing for those whose homes are unlivable. Initial assistance may be provided for up to three months for homeowners and at least one month for renters. Assistance may be extended if requested after the initial period based on a review of individual applicant requirements. (Source: FEMA funded and administered.)
- Grants for home repairs and replacement of essential household items not covered by insurance to make damaged dwellings safe, sanitary and functional. (Source: FEMA funded and administered.)
- Grants to replace personal property and help meet medical, dental, funeral, transportation and other serious disaster-related needs not covered by insurance or other federal, state and charitable aid programs. (Source: FEMA funded at 75 percent of total eligible costs; 25 percent funded by the state.)
- Unemployment payments up to 26 weeks for workers who temporarily lost jobs because of the disaster and who do not qualify for state benefits, such as self-employed individuals. (Source: FEMA funded; state administered.)
- Low-interest loans to cover residential losses not fully compensated by insurance. Loans available up to $200,000 for primary residence; $40,000 for personal property, including renter losses. Loans available up to $2 million for business property losses not fully compensated by insurance. (Source: U.S. Small Business Administration.)
- Loans up to $2 million for small businesses, small agricultural cooperatives and most private, non-profit organizations of all sizes that have suffered disaster-related cash flow problems and need funds for working capital to recover from the disaster’s adverse economic impact. This loan in combination with a property loss loan cannot exceed a total of $2 million. (Source: U.S. Small Business Administration.)
- Loans up to $500,000 for farmers, ranchers and aquaculture operators to cover production and property losses, excluding primary residence. (Source: Farm Service Agency, U.S. Dept. of Agriculture.)
How to apply for assistance: Those in the counties designated for assistance to affected residents and business owners can begin the disaster application process by registering online at www.disasterassistance.gov/ or www.fema.gov or by calling 1-800-621-FEMA (3362) or 1-800-462-7585 (TTY) for the hearing and speech impaired. The toll-free Teleregistration numbers will operate Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. to 1 a.m., on weekends – Saturday and Sunday from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m., until further notice.