More than two months after the historic Oct. 4 flooding, hundreds of residents across South Carolina still are applying daily for federal disaster assistance.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency averaged more than 270 new registrations Monday through Thursday last week, and the U.S. Small Business Administration received nearly 80 applications per day last week.
FEMA, which can grant up to $33,000 in disaster aid to each affected household, so far has approved roughly $74 million in disaster aid to individuals and households, spokesman Jim Homstad said. The SBA has approved more than $104 million in low-interest loans meant to boost the long-term recovery efforts of homeowners, renters and businesses.
Gov. Nikki Haley in late November requested and was granted a 30-day extension to the application period for federal disaster assistance, which previously had a Dec. 4 deadline. Haley said she made the request because of the volume of applications still pouring in.
“As long as we are seeing those kinds of numbers, we need to make sure that everybody has the ability to continue to get the assistance that they need,” Haley said.
Disaster recovery officials are still urging residents to apply ahead of the new deadline, Jan 3 at midnight, and to appeal any denial letters FEMA sends.
“My advice is to apply as soon as you possibly can,” Homstad said. “I understand that people have had their lives turned upside down, but there’s really no point in waiting. The sooner you do it, the sooner we can assist in your recovery.”
More than 95,000 people statewide, including nearly 19,500 in hard-hit Richland County, have registered with FEMA, Homstad said. More than 26 percent of FEMA applicants are receiving aid, while nearly 52 percent of applicants were ineligible, Homstad said.
Homstad said there are a “number of reasons for ineligibility,” including insufficient damage to essential living areas, inability to verify ownership or occupancy, and missing information or essential documents. Applicants with flood insurance are not eligible, and FEMA does not provide grant money for secondary homes, Homstad said.
To apply for FEMA aid, call 800-621-3362, visit disasterassistance.gov or stop by a disaster recovery center. Disaster recovery centers can be found at fema.gov/disaster-recovery-centers.
Flood survivors can apply for an SBA loan by calling 800-659-2955, visiting disasterloan.sba.gov/ela or going to a disaster recovery center.