Resources and Assistance for Winter Storm Relief
In response to the historic weather disaster that has hit Buffalo and Western New York, my office has put together a list of resources and information available to assist the community
FEDERAL PROCESS FOR DISASTER DECLARATION
In the event of a catastrophic event, a major disaster declaration is generally issued granting authority for federal agencies to provide supplemental assistance to help state and local governments, families and individuals, and certain nonprofit organizations recover from the incident. This declaration is granted by the President under the direction of Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).
ASSISTANCE FOR HOMEOWNERS
These disaster declarations occur once the damage has been assessed. FEMA officials will soon be on the ground to determine the amount in costs. A President's declaration triggers the allocation of funds from the Disaster Relief Fund, and the funding may be distributed from any one or any combination, of three categories of disaster aid:
Individual Assistance – includes disaster housing for displaced individuals, grants for needs not covered by insurance, crisis counseling, and disaster-related unemployment assistance.
Public Assistance – helps communities absorb the costs of emergency measures such as removing debris and repairing or replacing structures such as public buildings, roads, bridges, and public utilities.
Hazard Mitigation – funds mitigation measures to prevent or lessen the effects of a future disaster.
For more information on each of these three programs and the specific expenses they will cover, please visit www.fema.gov/response-recovery.
FEMA also provides an online survey to determine what resources are available specifically to you: www.disasterassistance.gov.
ASSISTANCE FOR FARM OWNERS
Upon a disaster declaration by the President, farmers will be eligible for low interest emergency loans by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). They will also have the possibility of enrolling in the Disaster Set-Aside Program provided by USDA’s Farm Service Agency. The best place to start is with your crop insurer should you be enrolled. For further information, please visit disaster.fsa.usda.gov.
ASSISTANCE FOR SMALL BUSINESSES
Upon a disaster declarion by the President, any business – regardless of size – that is located in a declared disaster area is eligible for a long-term, low-interest loan to repair or replace damaged property. These loans are offered by the Small Business Administration (SBA) and come in two forms: (1) Physical Disaster Loans; and (2) Economic Injury Disaster Loans. Both of these loans can be granted up to $2 million and the interest rate on both these loans will not exceed four percent if you do not have credit available elsewhere. Additionally, home owners not covered by private home insurance can be eligible for SBA disaster loans. For further information, please visit www.sba.gov.
HERE TO HELP WESTERN NEW YORKERS
Congressman Collins is working with federal officials to assess the damage and help with an expedient response to the disaster. He has been in contact with both SBA and USDA, in addition to FEMA, urging them to prepare to swiftly approve requests following the pending major disaster declaration. For further assistance or questions, please do not hesitate to contact the Lancaster office at (716) 634-2324.