The U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has so far approved more than $2.4 million in federal disaster aid for individuals in Montana counties devastated by recent flooding, FEMA announced Aug. 10.
Unusually heavy rain and a late-melting snowpack resulted in rising water and flooding across the state from April 4-July 22.
President Barack Obama on July 26 amended Montana’s disaster declaration to include individual assistance in 16 Montana counties and three reservations. On June 17, Obama had declared a major disaster existed in 31 counties and four tribal jurisdictions, approving aid to repair or replace their public infrastructure.
As of Aug. 3, federal assistance to individuals in counties affected include:
- $2,428,908 in total housing and other needs has been approved;
- Of that amount, $2,274,260 has been approved for housing expenses, including temporary rental assistance, home repair costs, and assistance toward replacing destroyed homes;
- $154,648 has been approved as “other needs assistance” to cover essential disaster-related needs, such as medical expenses and damaged personal property;
- 763 home inspections have been completed; and
- Number of applicants registered with FEMA total 1,020.
“Montanans are proud, hardworking people who take a lot of pride in their homes and small businesses,” said Montana Gov. Brian Schweitzer. “We applaud the fast action by FEMA and are grateful for the help they are providing directly to our friends and neighbors to start getting their lives back to normal.”
“We know we have strong partners in Montana who are committed to getting the job done in a fast and effective manner,” FEMA’s federal coordinating officer Doug Mayne said. “As part of our assistance, we will look at making repairs that will reduce the likelihood of future flood damages, with the aim of saving taxpayers’ money.”
Montanans are encouraged to register as soon as possible for disaster assistance. The deadline for aid applications for those with loss of property must register by Sept. 26. Those applying for business losses have to do so by April 2012. Once an individual registers, FEMA sends an inspector to assess damages.
After registering for assistance, registrants may receive an application for a low-interest U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) loan. Recovering from a disaster is a process that includes a combination of personal insurance, FEMA disaster assistance, and potentially a low-interest SBA loan. Even with insurance, residents should apply with FEMA and the SBA.
“The faster we can get this funding working,” Schweitzer said, “the faster people can get their communities back.”
Rapid deep snowpack melting in the northern Rocky Mountains was the main cause, setting off flooding of portions of the Yellowstone, Tongue, Musselshell, Little Bighorn, and Clark Fork rivers.