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'Anyone with damage is eligible to apply,' FEMA says on flood reimbursement

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Officials with the Federal Emergency Management Administration and U.S. Small Business Administration are making connections with area residents who were affected by the September flooding in southeastern South Dakota.

“The most important message is: anyone with damage is eligible to apply,” said Louise Porter, a public information officer with the SBA’s Office of Disaster Assistance. “The help is there for everyone.”

The first step for those seeking FEMA assistance is to visit disasterassistance.gov or call the FEMA disaster assistance helpline at 1-800-621-3362. FEMA has opened disaster recovery centers in Madison and Yankton, and a center will be opened in Mitchell, but the location is yet to be determined.

Nate Custer, a FEMA public information officer, said that it’s common for people to have an independent streak and believe that there might be other individuals affected who need assistance more. But he said that’s not the case.

“Everyone that had any damages or expenses should apply because you can’t compare people’s circumstances. Everything is so individualized from one house to the next, and everyone’s situation is a little different,” Custer said.

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The center will be open not only to those affected in Davison County, but for people in neighboring counties which were also impacted by the flooding. Custer said as of Dec. 4, 864 individuals or groups had registered with FEMA for the disaster in the 11 affected counties of Brookings, Charles Mix, Davison, Hanson, Hutchinson, Lake, Lincoln, McCook, Minnehaha, Moody and Yankton, and the Flandreau Santee and Yankton Indian Reservations. That included 209 registrations in Davison, 50 in Hanson, 33 in McCook and 15 in Hutchinson counties.

Some of those people can be referred to SBA, which authorizes low-interest loans for those impacted by the disaster, which included extensive flooding and severe storms. The SBA offers federal low-interest disaster loans to businesses of all sizes, private non-profit organizations, homeowners and renters. Businesses can borrow up to $2 million to repair and replace disaster property damage, if approved. Homeowners can borrow funds for home repairs and personal property damage, as well.

The SBA’s Disaster Assistance Customer Service Center can be reached at 1-800-659-2955.

FEMA’s Disaster Survivor Assistance teams have started to make contact with residents in late November. On Tuesday, a meeting was held regarding public assistance for government agencies such as municipalities, townships and counties, along with other private, non-profit groups. Those groups can be reimbursed by FEMA for disaster-related debris removal, emergency protective agencies and permanent repair work.

Previous local registration related to the disaster does not qualify an individual for FEMA assistance, so those affected by the disaster should get in touch with FEMA. Porter said getting in touch with FEMA can jump start some much-needed help for individuals, regardless of what their specific needs might be.

“We can have all of the balls rolling at the same time,” Porter said.

Related Topics: WEATHER
Traxler is the assistant editor and sports editor for the Mitchell Republic. He's worked for the newspaper since 2014 and has covered a wide variety of topics. He can be reached at mtraxler@mitchellrepublic.com.
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