The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has extended until Monday, June 18, the deadline to register for aid for those who suffered losses or damage from hurricanes Maria and Irma, which struck Puerto Rico in September 2017. Maria devastated much of the island and forced many residents to flee to Pennsylvania and other states.
“Registration with FEMA is the first step in accessing a number of resources for disaster survivors,” said Eastern PA Conference Disaster Response Coordinator Robert Simcox. “Please encourage churches to share this information with people now in the U.S. who may be eligible.”
Attached in Spanish and English are news releases and brochures with information on how to register for assistance.
Registration can be done in several ways:
To meet the needs of people with disabilities or other access and functional needs, disaster recovery centers offer accommodations including sign language interpreters upon request, materials in alternate formats (Braille, large print), assistive technologies, including VRS, and wheelchairs. Information on the registration process is also available in American Sign Language at www.fema.gov/medialibrary/assets/videos/111546.
After registering with FEMA, some survivors may be contacted by the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA). Although applicants are not required to accept a low-interest disaster loan from SBA, it’s important to return the completed loan application, as it may lead to additional FEMA assistance. The deadline to return completed SBA loan applications is now June 18.
For more information about SBA loans, call SBA’s Disaster Assistance Customer Service Center at 800-659-2955 (TTY: 800-877-8339), email firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit www.sba.gov/disaster. To apply online go to SBA’s secure website at https://disasterloan.sba.gov/ela.
Another ensuing deadline, June 30, will bring an end to the Transitional Sheltering Assistance (TSA) program which provides short-term housing assistance and transportation back to Puerto Rico for displaced families. FEMA announced that this will be the final extension of that “unprecedented support” program for survivors of hurricanes Irma and Maria.
FEMA reported in May that it had provided hotel rooms for more than 7,000 families through the TSA program and continues to help those in need find longer-term housing solutions. Approximately 2,300 families were in TSA-participating hotels in more than 30 states and Puerto Rico last month. They must all make plans to locate and occupy longer-term housing by June 30.
FEMA is working with social service agencies and non-profit organizations to assist survivors in Puerto Rico and the U.S., as well as providing direct, short-term housing and case management assistance. It reported that Congress has appropriated and HUD has awarded nearly $20 billion in disaster-related Community Development Block Grants to Puerto Rico to support long-term housing recovery efforts.