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Flood assistance deadline nears

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By LPR Staff

Editor/POST-REGISTER

 

As residents struggle to rebuild, and the Caldwell County Office of Emergency Management searches for funds to proceed with cleanup, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) reminds residents that the deadline to apply for FEMA assistance is nearing.

Under the Federal Disaster Declaration in

connection with the Memorial Day Weekend flooding events, FEMA has already approved $1.07 million in assistance to 273 applicants in Caldwell County, according to figures released last week.

In relation to the San Marcos, Wimberley and Blanco floods, 1,903 Hays County residents have applied for assistance, which has been granted in totals upwards of $7.6 million.

Caldwell County Emergency Management Coordinator Martin Ritchey told the Caldwell County Commissioners on Monday that his office is continuing to seek assistance from the government, this time in the form of an application to the Texas Department of Emergency Management and FEMA for financial assistance in removing debris from private property.

Largely, debris collection has been completed on the public right-of-ways, where residents and volunteers stacked debris in the days and weeks following the floods. Unfortunately, Ritchey said, the funds available for those cleanups prevent collection from commercial or private rural property.

He is in hopes that grant funds from TDEM will help to bridge that gap.

““The Stafford Act, which gives FEMA the opportunity to remove debris from private property is pretty restrictive,” he said, noting that most of the properties impacted will likely be ineligible. “We’re working diligently to find the revenue for this.”

Ritchey said he was been working with several agencies, including the Guadalupe-Blanco River Authority, to find the funds and means to remove debris, including vehicles, construction debris and “every type of debris you can imagine” from the San Marcos River and its banks.

Ritchey also noted several property owners have continued to stack flood debris in the right-of-ways, well after the deadline for Federally authorized collection. That debris, along with any construction debris related to rebuilding after the floods, is not eligible for FEMA collection, and will be the responsibility of the property owner to have removed.

Available assistance may be able to help homeowners meet expenses incurred as a result of the flooding, including rent, temporary housing, home repairs or medical needs.

Additionally, the Small Business Administration continues to accept applications for loans and grants that may be distributed as a result of the flooding. Individuals, even if they are not business owners, have been encouraged to apply, if they have not already, because many of the grants will be awarded and managed through the SBA applications.

The deadline to return applications is Aug. 27, 2015. Anyone who has applied, but received a letter that their application was rejected, is encouraged to appeal, within the 60-day window allotted upon receipt of the rejection letter.

For additional information, visit www.DisasterAssistance.gov online, or call (800) 621-3362.

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