"The number of registrations from these counties has declined, and we feel that the majority of those needing assistance have taken advantage of these centers' services," said State Coordinating Officer Charley English. "Georgia Emergency Management Agency and FEMA keep DRCs open for as long as needed in each location."
The center will be open from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily through Saturday.
"Anyone who registers for disaster assistance may access necessary information through FEMA," Federal Coordinating Officer Gracia Szczech said. "This help is available from representatives staffing the helpline service and Internet sites."
Anyone needing further help and answers to their questions may call FEMA's toll-free helpline at 1-800-621-FEMA (3362). Individuals with speech or hearing disabilities may call TTY 1-800-462-7585 from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily. Help is also available by going online to www.disasterassistance.gov as well as by using mobile devices and going to m.fema.gov, 24 hours a day.
Fears that there will not be enough money to assist everyone affected by the April 27 and 28 storms are misleading, according to officials with GEMA and FEMA.
"We understand that with the widespread flooding and devastation across the U.S., some may believe there is not enough money available to assist everyone nationwide who has eligible disaster losses," Szczech said. "We want to assure Georgians that everyone -- from the first to the last registrant -- will receive all the assistance they are eligible to receive."
Anyone affected by the April severe storms, tornadoes, straight-line winds and associated flooding is urged to register for disaster assistance with FEMA. Funds are available to address essential losses not covered by insurance, and grants may be available to cover emergency home repairs and rental assistance. Low-interest disaster loans from the U.S. Small Business Administration may be available for homeowners and renters as well as business owners.
"Some people may feel that if they register, they are taking money away from someone else who, in their eyes, is less fortunate," English said. "Assistance is provided on a case-by-case basis and funds are available to address eligible losses."
Registering takes about 20 minutes and can be done by phone, on the internet and with mobile devices. By phone, register between 7 a.m. and 10 p.m. daily. Call 1-800-621-FEMA (3362). Individuals with hearing or speech disabilities can call 1-800-462-7585. Register using the Internet by logging on to www.disasterassistance.gov or, with mobile devices, go to m.fema.gov.
Georgians who have registered for disaster assistance with FEMA are encouraged to complete and return their SBA disaster loan applications as soon as they receive them.
Homeowners and renters may receive an SBA loan application within seven to 10 days after registering with FEMA. Completing the application is a necessary step in obtaining some types of disaster assistance. Returning the loan packet quickly may also mean a faster delivery of assistance to those in need. Individuals who do not qualify for SBA loans may then be referred to other available disaster aid programs.
"It is important that those who receive an SBA application fill it out and return it as quickly as possible, even if they are not interested in a loan," Szczech said. "Failing to return a completed application may stop the assistance process."
SBA representatives are available to help individuals fill out the SBA loan application at any of the Disaster Recovery Centers open in the disaster-affected counties. Disaster loan information and application forms may also be obtained from SBA's Customer Service Center by calling toll-free 800-659-2955 (individuals with hearing or speech disabilities may call 800-877-8339), emailing email@example.com, or visiting SBA's website at www.sba.gov/services/disasterassistance.
SBA loans are the largest source of disaster funding for homeowners making substantial repairs or rebuilding damaged structures to their pre-disaster condition, and for renters as well as homeowners for the replacement of personal property. Actual loan amounts and terms are set by the SBA and are based on each applicant's financial condition. The low-interest disaster loans are available to homeowners, renters and business owners.
Some Georgia disaster aid recipients have expressed concern that their state and federal grants might cause them to lose Social Security benefits, pay additional taxes, or give up income-based benefit programs. Officials with GEMA and FEMA say those concerns are unfounded.
In most cases, the Social Security Administration does not count federal or state disaster aid as income.
Here are answers to the most common questions:
Question: If I earn more than a certain amount each year, I must repay $1 of my Social Security payment for every $2 earned. Will FEMA grants add to my income and require me to repay Social Security?
Answer: No. FEMA grants for housing and Other Needs Assistance (ONA) are not counted as income.
Question: Will receiving a grant result in my income being increased so that I am no longer eligible for Medicaid, welfare assistance, food stamps or Aid to Families with Dependent Children?
Answer: No. Grants for housing and ONA are not counted as income in determining eligibility for any income-based benefit programs funded by the U.S. government.
Registering takes about 20 minutes and can be done by phone, on the internet and mobile devices. By phone, register between 7 a.m. and 10 p.m. daily. Call 1-800-621-FEMA (3362). Those with hearing or speech disabilities can call 1-800-462-7585. Register anytime using the internet by logging on to www.disasterassistance.gov or with a mobile device by going to m.fema.gov.
Anyone affected by the April storms is urged to register for disaster assistance through FEMA. There are grants to cover emergency home repairs, rental assistance and funds to address essential losses not covered by insurance. Low-interest disaster loans from the U.S. Small Business Administration may be available for homeowners and renters as well as business owners.
Georgia residents in the 25 federally declared counties affected by the April 27 and 28 storms can request the assistance of a lawyer through a toll-free legal aid line operated by the State Bar of Georgia Young Lawyers Division/American Bar Association.
The service is provided by GEMA, FEMA and the State Bar of Georgia.
Those with legal issues arising from the severe storms that struck Georgia and who are unable to afford a lawyer can request assistance 24 hours a day by calling 1-866-584-8027. Callers will be asked to leave a voice mail message. A volunteer attorney will return the call within 24 to 48 hours.
A Spanish-speaking attorney may be requested.
Legal services available to qualifying individuals include:
* Assistance with issues concerning state and federal programs
* Assistance with life, medical and property insurance claims
* Help with home repair contracts
* Replacement of wills and other legal documents destroyed in the disaster
* Assistance with consumer protection, remedies and procedures
* Counseling on mortgage-foreclosure problems
* Counseling on landlord/tenant problems
There are some limitations on disaster legal services. For example, assistance is not available for cases that will produce a fee (such as cases where attorneys are paid part of a settlement awarded by the court). Cases that may generate a fee are referred to a local lawyer referral service.