Flood-affected homeowners, renters and business owners in Nebraska and Iowa are running out of time to apply for federal disaster aid.
Nebraskans have until Wednesday to apply for individual assistance from the Federal Emergency Management Agency. Residents of 28 counties and the Santee Sioux Nation are eligible after floodwaters tore through a third of the state in March.
FEMA aid can cover home repairs and renovations, rental assistance, the replacement of ruined belongings and other disaster-related costs not covered by insurance. The grants do not have to be repaid and nationally average about $3,000 to $5,000 per household.
That number has been higher in Iowa, so far, at about $11,000 per household, according to FEMA spokeswoman Deanna Frazier.
She said flood survivors do need to temper expectations — federal aid may not come close to covering the costs of renovating or rebuilding. FEMA assistance is designed to get homes safe and habitable after a disaster.
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“FEMA is not designed to make you whole again,” she said.
At least 3,000 applications have been submitted so far in Nebraska and $22.9 million in payments approved.
Wednesday is also the deadline to apply for loans from the U.S. Small Business Administration. Those loans do have to be paid back, with interest. By the beginning of June, the SBA approved $38.8 million in low-interest loans for Nebraska homeowners, renters, businesses and nonprofits.
Some entities in Nebraska have until Thursday to apply for public assistance aid from FEMA, which reimburses towns, counties, schools, tribal governments and some nonprofits for at least 75 percent of costs associated with debris removal and building and infrastructure damage.
The FEMA deadline for nine disaster-designated counties in Iowa is July 1. There, 2,343 families have applied for assistance so far and FEMA has approved $13.4 million in payments. Nearly 1,300 households in Pottawattamie, Mills, Fremont and Harrison Counties are among the applicants.
Because of recurring flooding along the Missouri River, FEMA field inspectors have had difficulty accessing about 120 homes that are still surrounded or submerged by water.
Frazier encourages people who thinks they are eligible to apply.
“This is not a handout,” she said. “This is your tax dollars at work. ... Take advantage of what’s available to you.”
To apply for FEMA aid, visit DisasterAssistance.gov, call 800-621-3362 or 800-462-7585 (TTY) or download the FEMA app and click on “disaster resources” then “apply for assistance online.”
Applicants need to provide proper documentation, including a Social Security number, current address, proof of ownership of a damaged property and private insurance information, if applicable.