Federal resources provided by disaster declaration
President Obama's decision to declare Champaign and Vermilion County and other areas affected by last month's tornadoes Federal Disaster Areas qualifies local residents for a variety of grants and low-interest loans. These include:
- Grants of up to $32,400 for disaster-related needs not covered by insurance, including replacement of property, transportation and medical care.
- Low-interest loans for homeowners of up to $200,000 to cover uninsured property losses of homes, vehicles, clothing and other personal property. Both homeowners and renters can qualify for low-interest loans of up to $40,000 to replace damaged or destroyed personal property like clothing, furniture, appliances and vehicles.
- Federal crisis counseling, unemployment assistance and legal aid for issues like income tax, Social Security and veterans benefits.
- Low-interest loans of up to $2 million for private businesses and not-for-profit organizations to replace or repair damaged real estate, machinery and other business assets.
To apply, call 1-800-621-3362, visit www.DisasterAssistance.gov or visit m.fema.gov from your tablet or smartphone. Be sure to have your Social Security number (and your spouse's if applicable) and private insurance information available. If you want disaster assistance funds sent directly to your bank account, have your account number and routing information available.
The Illinois treasurer's office can provide low-interest disaster recovery loans to residents, business owners and farmers who are waiting on insurance settlements or other aid programs to take effect. (For example, declaring a federal disaster area, which makes residents eligible for a wider variety of loans, can take time.)
The Department of Insurance has a handy fact sheet about what you should do and what you should expect from your insurance company when dealing with disaster recovery. Knowing the facts is an important way to avoid missing opportunities. The fact sheet is available here.
As the fact sheet notes, one of the most important parts of the recovery process is selecting a reputable contractor. Con artists known as "storm chasers" often go door-to-door after major storms offering to repair homes. They frequently do a shoddy job or simply steal money or property. For more information about avoiding storm chasers, visit the National Storm Damage Center's website.
Disposing of debris and waste can be a major concern after a disaster of this magnitude. The Illinois Environmental Protection Agency has put together a fact sheet explaining how to dispose of wreckage, complete with phone numbers of experts who can address common concerns. Read it here.
American Red Cross is available to help with basic needs such as personal supplies and clean up kits. Financial assistance is available on a need basis; please call (217) 446-7223 for more information.
You can donate to the Red Cross' disaster relief fund by clicking here, calling 800-RED CROSS or texting the word REDCROSS to 90999 (automatic $10 donation). For more information, call the Red Cross at 217-446-7223.
The Rescue Mission has a daily hot lunch available. To register for a lunch, please call 217-446-7223. The Rescue Mission is located at 834 N. Bowman Ave., Danville.