West Virginia Flood Survivors: How to Get & Give Help
Federal Aid Programs for West Virginia Flood Survivors
Massive flooding, landslides and mudslides has devastated parts of West Virginia killing at least 24 people and damaging or destroying over 1,200 homes. As a result, the President has issued a major disaster declaration for West Virginia, which means individuals and businesses who suffered losses from the flooding can get help.
So far, Disaster Assistance tops $28 million for West Virginia storm survivors. However, to receive federal assistance you must apply.
How to Apply for Assistance:
- Individuals and business owners who sustained losses in the designated area can begin applying for assistance by registering online at www.DisasterAssistance.gov or by calling 1-800-621-FEMA (3362). Disaster assistance applicants, who have a speech disability or hearing loss and use TTY, should call 1-800-462-7585 directly; for those who use 711 or Video Relay Service (VRS), call 1-800-621-3362. The toll-free telephone numbers will operate from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. (local time) seven days a week until further notice.
Flood Assistance for Affected Individuals and Families Can Include the following:
- Rental payments for temporary housing for those whose homes are unlivable. Initial assistance may be provided for up to three months for homeowners and at least one month for renters. Assistance may be extended if requested after the initial period based on a review of individual applicant requirements.(Source: FEMA funded and administered.)
- Grants for home repairs and replacement of essential household items not covered by insurance to make damaged dwellings safe, sanitary and functional.(Source: FEMA funded and administered.)
- Grants to replace personal property and help meet medical, dental, funeral, transportation and other serious disaster-related needs not covered by insurance or other federal, state and charitable aid programs. (Source: FEMA funded at 75 percent of total eligible costs; 25 percent funded by the state.)
- Unemployment payments up to 26 weeks for workers who temporarily lost jobs because of the disaster and who do not qualify for state benefits, such as self-employed individuals. (Source: FEMA funded; state administered.)
- Low-interest loans to cover residential losses not fully compensated by insurance. Loans available up to $200,000 for primary residence; $40,000 for personal property, including renter losses. Loans available up to $2 million for business property losses not fully compensated by insurance. (Source: U.S. Small Business Administration.)
- Loans up to $2 million for small businesses, small agricultural cooperatives and most private, non-profit organizations of all sizes that have suffered disaster-related cash flow problems and need funds for working capital to recover from the disaster’s adverse economic impact. This loan in combination with a property loss loan cannot exceed a total of $2 million. (Source: U.S. Small Business Administration.)
- Loans up to $500,000 for farmers, ranchers and aquaculture operators to cover production and property losses, excluding primary residence. (Source: Farm Service Agency, U.S. Dept. of Agriculture.)
- Other relief programs: Crisis counseling for those traumatized by the disaster; income tax assistance for filing casualty losses; advisory assistance for legal, veterans’ benefits and social security matters.
How to Help West Virginia Flood Survivors
Many West Virginians have and continue to volunteer to help flood survivors recover from the massive storms, and that continues to be a great way to help. Volunteers wishing to help with flood response and recovery can register online at www.volunteerwv.org. Donations also continue to be a great way to help. Here is a link to a page listing several drop off sites for donations and non profits involved in the recovery efforts.
Here’s what the Huffington Post has to say about how to donate money and items to flood survivors.
You can donate money to the Red Cross and to the local chapter of United Way, which will put the funds toward meals and other relief supplies, as well as mental health services and prescription medications.
You can also donate money through the West Virginia Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster, the Greenbrier resort, Save the Children and several other local groups. To ensure a charity’s legitimacy before donating, check the secretary of state’s database, Charity Navigator or GuideStar.
Several charities are asking for donated items and supplies.
Many fire departments, including those in neighboring states, are coordinating to bring donated supplies to affected people.
You can also drop off donations at West Virginia University. The schools lists cleaning supplies, toiletries, batteries, diapers and other baby items as some of the high-priority needs.
The Kanawha-Charleston Humane Association is asking for dog and cat food donations, which can be donated in person or through its online wish list.
“The need is so great, we were forced to divide bags of dog food between multiple families,” the shelter wrote in an announcement Sunday.
Brooks West is a West Virginia personal injury lawyer who helps people who have been injured by negligence or wrongful conduct. He is the President and founder of West Law Firm and has been an attorney since 2005. Brooks is a Multi-Million Dollar Advocates Forum member and has been awarded the AV Preeminent Rating from Martindale-Hubbell.