Houston/ Community & Society
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Published on May 21, 2024
Houston Residents Get a Lifeline from FEMA After Severe Storms, Can Apply for Aid and $750 Urgent ReliefSource: Google Street View

Residents and businesses in Houston pummeled by recent vicious storms are now eligible for a helping hand from FEMA, which has rolled out a two-pronged disaster assistance effort in Harris County and six other Texas counties wrecked by the elemental tantrum, according to a Houston Chronicle report. Locals hit by the havoc can seek in-person help at the Fonde Community Center and Spring Branch Family Development Center, or they can jump online to DisasterAssistance.gov or ring up FEMA at 800-621-3362 from the comfort of, well, wherever they can find a signal.

The emergency agency's Serious Needs Assistance program puts $750 in the pockets of those needing urgent supplies, while the Displacement Assistance pushes out funds to aid with housing costs. On top of FEMA's relief, the U.S. Small Business Administration is raining down loans to individuals and businesses blown away by the storms - to the tune of up to $2 million for the former and a cool half million' for the latter, as U.S. Small Business Administration Administrator Isabella Casillas Guzman announced, the Houston Chronicle reported.

Over at FOX 26 Houston, it's clear FEMA isn't stuck in the past either, having overhauled its application process and ditched the need to be denied a Small Business Administration loan before getting their hands on FEMA aids. They can cross-apply and possibly pull down financial aid including, a now broader, Home Repair Assistance and an expanded coverage that gives underinsured or uninsured dwellers a break to patch up their homes.

"Serious needs assistance is a one-time payment of $750 that covers serious needs such as food, baby formula, breastfeeding supplies, things that they may need in the immediate moment," FEMA spokesperson Lenisha Smith told FOX 26 Houston. Meanwhile, the Better Business Bureau warns storm-stricken homeowners to steer clear of repair scams, advises proper vetting of contractors, and recommends the prudent practice of paying only one-third of repair costs upfront, as Leah Napoliello, from BBB, imparted wisdom to storm victims.

As for the legal muddle victims may face as they reach for assistance, they might find solace in Lone Star Legal Aid, offering legal assistance for those who qualify, helping solidify proof of ownership, and navigating other legal tornadoes associated with disaster relief. For those looking to explore this option, more information can be found on the organization's Disaster Relief page. Houstonians who have sustained losses can start their application for FEMA aid either through their website, via the FEMA app, or by picking up the phone and dialing: (800) 621-FEMA (3362).