Additional FEMA assistance approved; deadline approaching

Those in southwest Oklahoma affected by the fierce August storms will finally get some help.  Tropical depression Erin dropped torrential rains and winds on central and southwest Oklahoma.  It claimed six lives and caused untold property damage.

Governor Brad Henry originally declared a state of emergency in 24 counties.  On Tuesday, Comanche and Stephens counties were approved for some assistance by FEMA.  The two counties are among 12 others approved for individual disaster assistance, which brings the total 15 Oklahoma counties eligible for help.

The initial investigation said there wasn't enough damage to offer individual assistance.  But, Governor Henry thought we needed a second look.  "The Governor appealed the decision and we sent another team of preliminary damage assessment people.  They went through, found more damages that they did not see the first time," said Win Henderson of FEMA.  FEMA and SBA are working together to help those need of help.

The approval for individual assistance, through the Small Business Administration through the Disaster Loan Program could mean that if someone's home was damaged by Erin, they can now file for help.  "Homeowners can get up to $200,000 for real estate damages.  Renters and homeowners alike can get up to $40,000 for personal property loss," Henderson said.

But, they aren't the only ones benefiting from this disaster declaration.  "In addition to home owners and renters, small business owners affected by the flooding can also receive assistance through the Small Business Administration, as well as home owners and renters in the case of a disaster," said Henderson.

Even if your property wasn't damaged by the floods, you still may be able to get some assistance.  Businesses are eligible for low interest rate loans to replace or repair damaged property and for economic injury or lost revenue.  "The SBA can give you a loan at 4% to carry you through for up to $1.5 million so that when the folks that were affected by the disaster get back on their feet, and can start utilizing your business services again.  This is to make sure you don't have to go into bankruptcy or fall upon hard times," he said.

FEMA has doled out $9.8 million to over 4500 victims and that's just the first storm.  "On the second disaster, we've already got $2.3 million in individual assistance, justified, qualified and into the hands of the applicants as well as $500,000 for the other needs assistance, which is the essential needs," said Henderson.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency says to be sure to file your application as soon as possible.  The deadline for relief applications for the first wave of storms is October 5.  The deadline for the second series storms is October 23.

Make sure to submit a new application if you received any damage from either of these storms.