Use disaster grants wisely

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By Special to The Banner

FRANKFORT, Ky. - Disaster recovery officials urge recipients of federal grants to use the money wisely and to keep receipts and other documentation for at least three years as proof the funds were spent as intended.

Upon releasing the funds by direct deposit or check, the Federal Emergency Management Agency sent every recipient a letter providing important information about the grant and outlining how the money can be spent.

Officials say grants are for repairs, temporary housing and other approved disaster-related costs. Kentuckians with questions should call FEMA’s Helpline, 800-621-FEMA (3362).

Housing funds may be used for:

Repairs to return a home to a safe and functional condition. This may include repairs      to windows, doors, water and ventilation systems, or other structural parts of a home.

Reimbursement for lodging expenses directly related to the disaster. Receipts for these      expenses will be requested if the home sustained damages.

Rental assistance. Applicants who must remain in temporary housing for a longer period than the initial assistance covers may request more assistance until their home can be occupied or other permanent housing arrangements can be made. They also must turn in proper receipts to receive further assistance.

Recipients of Other Needs Assistance may use the funds for:

Personal property, specialized tools for employment, household items, appliances,      and vehicle repair or replacement.

Medical dental and funeral expenses and moving expenses.

Grant recipients are required to sign a declaration and a release certifying all funds will be spent on the expenses for which they are intended.

Applicants also should update addresses and phone numbers by calling 800-621-FEMA (3362) from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. Assistance is available in many languages. Those who are deaf, hard of hearing or who have a speech disability may use TTY 800-462-7585. Those who use 711 or Video Relay Service should call 800-621-3362.    

Without correct contact information, applicants may miss important correspondence or phone calls about their applications for assistance or payments.    

By law, FEMA grants, which are taxpayer dollars, cannot duplicate payments from other sources. For example, if a grant recipient receives an insurance settlement covering expenses already paid for by FEMA, those duplicated funds must be reimbursed to FEMA.

FEMA’s mission is to support our citizens and first responders to ensure that as a nation we work together to build, sustain, and improve our capability to prepare for, protect against, respond to, recover from, and mitigate all hazards.