FEMA doles out funds to wildfire victims

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The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has opened a temporary disaster recovery center in Canon City to make loans and grants available to people impacted by Colorado’s wildfires.

The center is located at Garden Park High School at 210 6th Street at Macon until July 13, but will be closed July 4. Recovery teams will answer questions and provide recovery information to those impacted by the fires.

“There are many programs available for homeowners, renters and businesses,” said federal coordinating officer Steve Emory. “This is a great opportunity for individuals to sit down with different agencies and get all of their questions answered concerning the recovery process.”

Disaster programs include temporary housing assistance, individual and family grants, low-interest disaster loans and disaster unemployment insurance. Those interested may also receive information about wildfire mitigation and safety tips.

“Anyone can visit any of the recovery centers, regardless of where they actually live,” said state coordinating officer Tommy Grier.

FEMA has already issued about $70,000 in disaster assistance to Colorado residents, and more than 1,000 residents have signed up for disaster help.

“This assistance is an important step in the recovery process,” Emory said. “And it reflects our commitment to providing disaster aid as quickly as possible.”

Meeting housing needs is the first priority, Grier added. “Getting people into safe and sanitary living quarters is important so they can begin focusing on cleaning up and repairing their homes,” he said.

The disaster-housing program provides grants to homeowners to make minor, but necessary, repairs for disaster-related damages, FEMA said. Grants for temporary rental assistance may be available for both homeowners and renters if they were forced to evacuate.

FEMA officials said government disaster covers basic needs only, and will not normally cover an individual’s entire loss. Some disaster aid does not have to be repaid, while other assistance comes in the form of loans from the U.S. Small Business Administration.

Fire damage in Colorado is extreme, even unparalleled, FEMA said.

“This is unprecedented,” Grier said. “This is the first time Colorado has received a disaster declaration as a result of a wildfire.”

“We know a lot of people are hurting out there,” Emory added. “If the wildfires caused your home to be damaged or destroyed, if you were evacuated for more than five days and don’t have insurance to cover the cost… give us a call.”

People shouldn’t rule themselves out because they believe there is no assistance for themselves, FEMA said.

“By giving us a call, we can determine what you may be eligible for,” said Emory.

Those impacted by the fires may be eligible for one or more disaster assistance programs, Emory stated.

They include temporary housing assistance, low-interest loans for homeowners, renters, business owners, and for uninsured and underinsured property loss or damage.

If you would like to see if you qualify for disaster assistance, call 800/621-3362 (FEMA). Or you can visit one of several recovery centers. The hearing impaired may use a TTY and call 800/462-7585.